Monday, January 18, 2016

Film Review: The Complex (2013)

The Complex (Review)
Japan/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"The combination of the been-there-done-that story and the ridiculously slow pace create an often dull movie."

Nursing student Asuka Ninomiya (Atsuko Maeda) moves into an apartment complex with her family. All is well until she begins to witness strange occurrences in the complex...

The Complex follows Asuka as she settles in her new home. She tries to meet her elderly neighbor, but to no avail – the man does not answer. In the meantime, she goes to school and befriends a young boy at the park. While living in the apartment, she hears her neighbor's alarm and strange scratching on her wall; she also witnesses her parents having the same conversations multiple times, which is a blatant hint of what's to come. At this point or so, the film reveals some of its 'twists.' Unfortunately, it's the same old bag of tricks. To be blunt, if you've watched hundreds of films in your life, you'll see everything coming from a mile away. The ending still packs a nice punch, though, so it's not an 'all-is-lost' situation.

The Complex is a fairly generic horror film, which is utterly disappointing to admit. The film wants to surprise you, but it fails due to relying on cliches for its twists and turns. Yet, the generic story isn't the worst part of the film. No, this is also a very slow film. Trust me, I love a great slow-burn horror film, much like the director's most iconic effort, Ringu, but this film is too slow for its own good. It spends more time showing us the environment and steady facial expressions than developing the story and the characters. Asuka is a reflection, or possibly the reason, for this pace as she's incredibly lethargic during most of the film. We spend so much time watching her perambulate and contemplate, we barely get to know her! The combination of the been-there-done-that story and the ridiculously slow pace create an often dull movie.

I wouldn't say it's a bad or downright boring film, though. Yes, it has a predictable plot, a slow pace, and some consequently dull moments, but it also has some strong aspects. Although the story is generic, I did enjoy delving into themes of grief, loneliness, and regret. It adds a pinch of substance we don't often see in horror films. In terms of horror, this film won't conjure any nightmares. Yet, it still offers some moderate suspense and some eerie imagery. I wish there was a stronger focus on the horror, but some is better than none. Some of the scenes are unintentionally humorous, especially towards the end, but those scenes are fortunately limited. Speaking of the end, I thought the final act was executed much better than the rest of the film, especially in terms of character development and horror.

The acting is good. Atsuko Maeda delivers a good performance as the leading lady. As I said, her character is rather lethargic, but Atsuko plays the character well enough. Hiorki Narimiya, who plays Sasahara in this film, also delivers a great performance. The film is shot very well. The camerawork is splendid, creating an engaging connection to the audience. The music is also great – the humming really sticks with you. The film is directed by Hideo Nakata, and written by Junya Kato and Ryuta Miyake. Although I appreciate the deep themes, the writing failed to offer an interesting and creative narrative. Nakata's direction is the saving grace of this film, creating an engaging and often spooky experience out of something we've seen many times before.

Overall, The Complex is a decent film. The narrative is something we've seen many times before. Although it eagerly wants to surprise you, it fails at delivering a unique or astonishing experience. The shockingly slow pace does not help. However, thanks to Hideo Nakata's direction, the performances, and the poignant themes, the film still manages to engage and even occasionally frighten. I'd recommend a rental or stream at most, even for big fans of Ringu or Nakata's other work.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Some blood.

No comments:

Post a Comment