Friday, June 5, 2009

Reincarnation (aka Rinne) (2005)

You really have to admire Takeshi Shimizu. The bastard simply doesn't give up.

A while ago in my review of The Executioner (1974), I briefly rehashed the efforts of Teruo Ishii to sabotage his own career in martial arts movies in order to return to directing detective movies.

Such doesn't appear to be the case with Shimizu. It's been slightly over a decade since the rest of the world was single-handedly introduced to the onryō genre via a gentleman named Hideo Nakata.

He directed a little film called Ring (1998) that some of you out there might remember.

Since then, the onryō genre has nearly been done to death in Japan, as well as Korea and the United States. Despite all of this, Shimizu still manages to find ways to add new spin to the angry ghost formula, find pleasure in his work, and smile all the way to the bank.

Rinne seems to draw inspiration from everything from Stephen King's The Shining, to Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994), and damn near every onryō movie before it.

Onryō movies aren't onryō movies if there is no sinister foreplot, so Shimizu sets the stage for Act I by placing us smack dab near the end of a spree killing taking place in a creepy hotel committed by an unhinged college professor named Kazuya Omori (Shun Oguri).

Omori's psychotic bloodlust claims eleven victims including his own daughter and in the usual fashion, Omori tops the incident off by taking his own life.

We then flash forward in time about fourty years. To our dread, we discover that famed and fictional movie director, Ikuo Matsumura (Kippei Shiina), feels inspired to create a dramatic horror-mentary (for lack of an equivelent term) of the murders so that the memories of the victims won't be lost in time.

A matter of further concern is that Matusumura wants to film this project at the very hotel where the slayings took place took place.

I don't think Mr. Matsumura could've had a worse idea in his head if he tried.

As the first day of the film shoot draws near, Nagisa Sugiura (Yuka), the actress set to play Omori's daughter in the film within this film, begins to have strange visions.

These visions turn out to be yurei; spirits who find themselves tasked to warn us when something awful is about to happen in the realm of the living. This particular group of yurei is (not surprisingly) composed of the eleven victims of Omori's hotel massacre.

For Nagisa and the rest of Matsumura's film crew, something wicked this way comes.

Some people may remember Rinne as one of the members of the After Dark Horrorfest Class of 2006, or one of three film that were actually worth dying for out of the original "8 Films (allegedly) Worth Dying For."

(The others being The Abandoned (2006) and the mildly spooky The Gravedancers (2006))

Rinne is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise overdone genre as it seamlessly interweaves a mystery story within a traditional ghost story not terribly unlike Guillermo del Toro's supernatural epic, The Devil's Backbone (2001), but without the stinging social commentary.

Rinne has no aspirations other than being an entertaining film and it succeeds at that rather handily.

Those with a steady diet of J-Horror will probably see the plot twists coming a mile away, but the last fifteen minutes of this film will have even seasoned (and probably jaded) horror buffs admiring the story progression and saying, "Oh shit, I didn't expect that to happen!"

To explain any more or go into further detail really would ruin the rather clever hooks that this movie will sink into your nerve endings, so I enthusiatically urge anyone reading this blog to check out this movie if they haven't already done so.

Shimizu really does do a lot more with a lot less, so perhaps it is indeed true what they say about big budgets being a negative catalyst when it comes to Asian horror?

(or horror in general, after viewing the awesomeness of Sam Raimi's shoestring budget epic Drag Me To Hell (2009) last weekend.)

The contrast between a movie like this and the Hollywood re-imagings of the various Ring movies certainly do seem to indicate that it is nigh impossible to focus on the subtle when your current film budget nearly dwarfs the combined budgets of your entire catalogue of previous work.


Matt-suzaka said...

I always wondered if this movie was any good or not. That trailer is very cool and I love some of the camera work shown within it.

I love me some good or even mediocre J Horror, especially if it has a sense of originality about it and/or a strong visual flair.

I will be on the look out for this one fo sho!

J.T. said...

Thanks for checking out our blog!

Rinne is a damn fine movie. I was glad to see that K-Horror hasn't completely taken the horror crown away from Japan just yet.

Mark Hodgson, said...

I really love Shimizu's Japanese Ju-On films, but found that RINNE was scarier, and a better film. Really under-appreciated, so far, despite a US DVD release.

Glad to find more dedicated Japanese movie bloggers through this blogathon!

Anonymous said...

I loved this movie. Just watched it again this week!