Genre: Supernatural Horror
Director: Shimizu Takashi (2005)
review in one breath
The concepts of reincarnation, curse and karma are explored in this tale involving a determined film director's attempt to base his new horror film on a grisly mass murder in a remote mountain inn more than 40 years prior. When he takes the cast for a film shoot at the actual location of the crime, the lead actress soon descends into haunting visions. This is the third film in the "J Horror Theater Series" and is directed by J-horror guru Shimizu Takeshi.
This is the third film in the "J Horror Theater" series (trilogy?) following Yogen/Premonition (Tsuruta Norio 2005) and Kansen/Infection (Ochiai Masayuki 2005). These prior two films were quite strong in their own right in terms of both narrative and cinematography. And with director Shimizu Takeshi at the helm of Rinnu this triad of films finishes on a high note.
You are by now likely familiar with the name Shimizu Takeshi due to his rather prominent role in contemporary J-Horror through such films as Ju-on (2002) and Ju-on 2 (2003; as well as the earlier TV versions of Ju-on), Tomie: Rebirth (2001) and Marebito (2004). He directed the US remakes Grudge (2004) and Grudge 2 (2006) and (btw) has "Grudge 3" slated for release in 2008.
Helping him with the screenplay here is Adachi Masaki who did the same in the two US remakes of Grudge. She also contributed to the screenplay of the original Dark Water (2002) with Ringu director Nakata Hideo and more recently with Suicide Circle director Sono Sion in EXTE (2007).
The film's cinematography is handled by Shibanushi Takahide. I don't normally rave about cinematographers, but Shinabushi comes with an impressive resume and his experience really shines through here. Director Kurosawa Kiyoshi used him for both his creepy Kourei/Seance and crystal clear Akarui Mirai/Bright Future. He's done "unnervingly realistic" pop culture quasi-docu-drama in Love and Pop and highly acknowledged historical recreation of critical and turbulent (Japanese) national events in Hikari no Ame. Hell, he even did a version of Gakkou no Kaidan (1998) and turned poseur pop-star Gakt into a matrix-like Vampire in Moon Child.
Thus, the cumulative experience and skill sets you have behind Rinne are rather impressive. And in my opinion, all three aspects succeed in producing a very effective and somewhat unique horror tale.
Film director Ikuo Matsumura (Kippei Shiina) finds himself nearly obsessed in basing his latest horror film on a decades-old mass murder. Known as the "Gunma (Prefecture) Hotel Murders", the violent slaying in a remote, scenic village of eleven hotel staff and guests followed by the suicide of the perpetrator shocked both the community and the nation. Among the victims were the murderer's wife and two young children. Though long ago, investigative journalists have explained the crime's forensic details, director Matsumura's goal is to to capture an accurate reconstruction of the horror faced by the family members in their final moments.
After a number of casting interviews, Matsumura stumbles upon the heretofore unknown Nagisa Sugiura (Yuka) and immediately deems her the ideal candidate for the lead role of "Chisato", the young daughter of the murderer, through whose eyes the climactic scenes of the film are to be shot. Although the original (and deceased) Chisato was a mere 6 years old, in order to meaningfully engage his audience in terms of terror and emotion Matsumura opts to portray Chisato as the twenty-something Nagisa. (??)
Even while on set at a studio recreation, both Matsumura and Nagisa begin seeing strange things. But once they get to the actual locale of the murders for authenticity's sake, all hell and horrific remembrance breaks loose. On the periphery is a disturbing 8mm film collected from the crime site, purportedly taken by the murderer himself.
We learn, along with the horrified Matsumura and Nagisa, what devastating meaning belies the relation amongst the film's cast and crew, the scarred and abandoned landscape of the murders, and the gruesomely filmed documentary they stumbled upon.
I enjoyed Rinne and recommend it for both what it is and what it is not.
First, as to what it IS: This is a rather unique and effective depiction of karma and the cycle of reincarnation. There are plenty of tales out there on these subjects, but I believe with Rinne you get a fresh and creepy perspective. Similarly, the storyline is heavy-laden with not only spooky moments but also plenty of well-captured scenes and ambiance. The experience of the director, writer and cinematographer came through rather forcefully for me.
And regarding what this film is not, it is not a retread of the oh-so-common props and characters appearing in so many Japanese horror films nowadays. There is no "dead wet girl" or long-haired ghoulie which is hugged in the finale. Sure, we get a creepy kid, but she's only one member of a whole creepy, miserable family. The way this film resolves itself in the end also seems unique, though in the larger picture this strikes me as in some ways a Japanese version of The Shining.
This is definitely a good one to check out, Its readily available in all mainstream US venues in a subtitled version. In fact, maybe you ae destined to see it!
Version reviewed: Region 1 DVD (with subtitles)
|Interesting and fresh horror depiction of reincarnation and karma.||Plenty of blood and some menacing knives. Bodies swinging from the rafters.||Plenty of cute girls... when they aren't screaming hysterically.||Effective and unique horror tale by Ju-On guru Shimizu Takeshi.|