“11 hours & 2 minutes before the ceremony execution”
Koji Shiraishi is an enigma, he is responsible for Noroi, possibly the most nerve-shredding piece of scary as fuck cinema ever. He is also sadly responsible for Grotesque & Carved, two very poor movies. So… is Koji Shiraishi a master moviemaker or did he just get lucky with Noroi? I recently found out that Shiraishi had made two other mockumentaries Occult & Shirome. I sat & watched them both & as far as Mr Shiraishi goes I’m even more confused, would the real Koji Shiraishi please stand up.
Occult is the investigation by Shiraishi himself of a brutal knife attack at a popular Japanese tourist spot. After interviewing several eyewitnesses the focus of the investigation centres on a man who was injured by the assailant. Instead of killing the man when he was at his mercy, the killer carves symbols into the man’s back stating “Your turn next”. The killer jumped from a cliff after the assault & his body was never found. Upon reviewing the footage Shiraishi & his crew spot a strange object in the sky. The injured man (a pathetic out of work loser) is interviewed & claims his life has changed since the attack & he witnesses what he calls miracles several times a week. Shiraishi & his crew decide to film the man 24/7 over a week to try & capture these miracles on film. It soon becomes apparent that there are indeed strange phenomena around the man but the question soon becomes what are these events & what will it lead this man to do?
I had high hopes for Occult when I sat down to watch it, maybe too high. After all it was highly unlikely it would be another Noroi. The movie starts well & the mockumentary style works well. Several eyewitnesses & survivors of the assault are interviewed & for a while it looked like Occult would be another film like Noroi that carefully weaved several disparate plot lines until they converged at the conclusion. Sadly this isn’t the case & after the opening Occult focuses on just the one plotline. The acting by the lead actor is superb, he really captures the essence of a man on the bottom rung of society that is given (in his mind) a gift & purpose. Shiraishi manages to create a story that does hold your interest & builds nicely to its climax. Sadly Occult is not without its faults. Firstly the SFX are abysmal. I dare say you could do better on your own PC with Paint in under 15 minutes. I can’t really specify what effects are poor for fear of giving away spoilers but you will know them when you see them. Even worse than the SFX is the loose ends not tied up at the film’s conclusion. What were the shapes in the sky? The movie gives no explanation of these & considering the movie focused on these heavily it was disappointing not to clarify this plot point. The ending is also a let down. The film builds nicely to the climax which is, in all honesty laughable. The idea is sound enough but the execution is pitiful, rendering any power the story had built up pointless. The inclusion of hints at The Lovecraft/Cthulhu Mythos is also done poorly & serves no real purpose at all.
Occult is worth a watch, if you haven’t seen Noroi I’m sure you will really enjoy it. Even if you have seen Noroi its worth a watch. Just don’t expect another Noroi, it’s nowhere near that good but a hell of a lot better than Grotesque, Carved & Shirome (his other mockumentary, which I will review when my ears have stopped ringing from the endless sound of Japanese girls screaming for an hour!) So, am I any closer to knowing the real Shiraishi?… Not in the slightest, if anything I’m even more confused.