“I think this will cost lives”
If I was feeling charitable & kind I would say that Shirome is a perfect example of the law of diminishing returns. Writer/Director Koji Shiraishi has made three mockumentaries, starting with the incredible Noroi, followed by the average Occult & lastly Shirome, by far the worst of the three. I could have said that but I’m not feeling charitable & Shirome is a lazy piece of filmmaking that is nothing more than a cheap cash in. This is a truly lazy & lame piece of moviemaking that Shiraishi should be ashamed of making.
For his latest mockumentary Shiraishi poses as the maker of a reality TV show where celebrities are taken to a haunted location to research the myths & legends surrounding the location. He persuades the J-Pop teen girl band Momoiro Clover to take part in his latest show. The girls will be taken to an abandoned school where there is a shrine to the demon Shirome. Shirome is said to take the form of a butterfly & will grant wishes to those who are sincere in thier wish & belief in Shirome. Should the wishmaker not be sincere Shirome will destroy the person, either driving them mad or leading them to suicide. Several unexplained deaths have been attributed to the legend of Shirome. The girls are briefed on the legend by a creepy expert in the myth & are then taken to the school accompanied by a monk & a medium. Once at the shrine the girls will perform their latest song & ask Shirome to allow them to appear on national TV to boost their popularity.
I cannot even begin to describe just how disappointed I was with this film. I knew it wasn’t going to come close to the incredible Noroi. I even suspected it wouldn’t be as good as Occult but this was just awful. What we have with Shirome is 80 odd minutes of Japanese teenage girls screaming… constantly! Momoiro Clover are a real teenage girl group (ages between 13 & 16) & Shiraishi pulls every clichéd trick in the book to frighten his young stars. While Shiraishi may have succeeded in terrifying his young stars he fails to even slightly spook his audience. With Noroi, Shiraishi weaved an incredibly creepy & unsettling story which really got under the skin of the audience. Anybody that knows me or has just browsed this site will know just how highly I regard Noroi. It is without a doubt the pinnacle of creepy-assed movies & one that has the power to pull you into the unfolding horror on repeat viewings. Shirome has none of Noroi’s atmosphere & its runtime just kind of passes you by. If it wasn’t for the constant high-pitched screaming & crying you could easily nod off at any point in the movie. Shirome is also sadly predictable, several times during the movie I guessed what was going to happen next & was right each time. The film’s ending is painfully obvious & reeks of a lack of thought & effort. It seems to me that Shiraishi was just going through the motions in the hope of a quick buck, made off of his reputation as Noroi’s creator. There really isn’t a whole lot more I could say about it. The movie is incredibly shallow & linear, leaving little to mull over.
Shirome is sadly just a dull, underdeveloped & ill thought out movie that offers little in the way of atmosphere, scares or originality. You could have more fun spending 80 minutes watching flies fuck. A desperate disappointment of a movie. One to avoid.
“The child is not yours anymore”
I must admit to being surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. There is nothing original here, coupled with a small budget, patchy SFX & even patchier (is that a word?) acting, it shouldn’t have been as much fun as it turned out to be. It does what it says on the tin with a real zeal & relish. Although I will give a plot synopsis in the next paragraph this movie is basically Inside crossed with Frontiers topped of with a little splash of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Adjie & his heavily pregnant wife Astrid are traveling to the airport with three of their best friends, where Adjie & Astrid will leave to start a new life in Sydney. Along the way they stop off to see Adjie’s estranged sister Ladya. Ladya is persuaded to join them in traveling to the airport to see them off. No sooner have they set off when they come across a woman Maya, wandering aimlessly at the roadside. Maya tells the group she has been robbed & the group agree to give her a lift home. Once at Maya’s home she introduces the group to her mother Dara, a soft-spoken, elegant woman who insists the group stays for some dinner as payment for their kindness. Adjie & Astrid go to one of the bedrooms so Astrid can rest, the others sit down for the meal. They are joined at the table by Dara’s other two children, both male. The wine they drink from is drugged & soon the friends wake to find themselves bound & gagged in a makeshift slaughterhouse & what does Dara want with Astrid’s unborn baby?
The first twenty minutes of this movie moves very slowly, establishing cast & characterisation. Once the friends are drugged the movie really picks up the pace & copious amounts of blood is split. As I have already stated the movie “borrows” heavily from other films. The scene with the police in Inside is lifted straight from that movie & placed in Macabre. You could easily spend the entire movie spotting all the homages (that’s a better word than ripoffs don’t you think?) from other genre movies. The SFX are a mixed bag, sometimes highly effective, the scene where a guy’s face is pulped by a rifle butt springs to mind. Yet at other times awful, the CGI flame effects are laughable & the blood has a horrible orange tinge to it, much like the blood in Romero”s Dawn Of The Dead. The acting from some of the supporting characters is straight from the Keanu Reeves School Of Ham. Despite all of this, the film has some decent plot turns, some imaginative splatter & moves at a good pace. But it is in it’s two stars that Macabre really shines. The movie’s heroine Ladya is played by Julie Estelle who is quite frankly stunning (sorry I’m male I can’t help it) Her performance strikes the right balance between plucky & vulnerable & gives you someone to root for. The film’s biggest plus is Shareefa Daanish, her performance as Dara is chilling. There have been some great villains in Asian cinema like Kyung-chul from I Saw The Devil. Daanish’s Dara is up there with the best of them. A soft, almost monotone spoken elegant psychopath, Dara is truly a horrifying creation, capable of truly extreme acts of violence & quite handy with weapons ranging from a chainsaw to a hairpin. It’s worth seeing this movie just for Daanish’s performance.
Macabre is never going to be considered a classic, but you know what, fuck it. It entertains, isn’t that the whole point. Despite it’s derrivative nature there is enough in the way of freshish ideas to make it work. Just a real funtime & as mentioned before worth the rental price for Daanish’s performance alone. Recommended.
“Now I understand why Kang killed all his buddies”
GP 506 is the second feature film from writer/director Kong Su-chang, following his well received debut movie R-Point. I probably should have reviewed R-Point for this site already but despite it being a well made & impressive debut it is also an overly long ghost story & those of you familiar with me & this site will know that I am a less than enthusiastic fan of ghost movies. It is for that reason I haven’t sat down to re watch R-Point for the purposes of a review here. GP 506 is, like R-Point another military horror. This time instead of ghosts we get a mixture of R-Point, The Bunker & The Crazies.
GP506 is an outpost on the border of North & South Korea in the DMZ (demilitarised zone) The guard post itself is a huge concrete structure full of maze like corridors. Each tour of duty lasts for three months & the soldiers are armed with live ammunition at all times. On the 29th May 2007 M.P.s break into GP 506 searching the facility room by room until they find a room full of blooded corpses & one survivor, coated in blood holding an axe. The man is disarmed & placed into custody. Sergeant Noh is called in to investigate what happened at GP 506 & is told he has untill 6am the next day to find out what happened before the army arrives & covers it up. Once at GP 506 Noh informs Lt Bang whose M.P. unit found the man with the axe that he will be assuming command. Noh goes to see the survivor, now in a coma as the doctor is preparing to move him & the bodies of the dead to HQ. He discovers the man was Corporal Kang. Checking the post’s records, Noh realises they are one man short & unaccounted for. The soldier is found hiding in the complex & identified as 1st Lt Yoo, head of GP506. Struggling to understand & piece together what happened at GP506 & running short of time Noh begins to notice strange behaviour in his own men & it soon becomes apparent that they might be dealing with a virus with deadly consequences.
GP506 is a movie I wanted to like. It’s beautifully filmed & takes its time establishing plot & character. Sadly the movie is confused & way too long for its own good. The story of what happened to the original unit at GP506 is told in intermittent flashbacks throughout the film including a couple of important plot twists. These flashbacks are at first very hard to follow. With all the soldiers past & present wearing full camouflaged military fatigues including helmets, filmed in the dark it is very hard to make out who is who & there is no clear sign when the movie moves between timelines making the first hour very hard to follow. Only once the characters are established does this become somewhat easier to follow. The plot itself is actually very simple & didn’t need two hours to tell the story. While I commend Kong Su-chang for taking his time to create atmosphere & tone there were many times during the film I wished the pace would pick up. GP506 doesn’t really seem to know what kind of movie it wants to be. The beginning hints at Park Chan-wook’s Joint Security Area. The middle of the movie hints at Su-chang’s earlier R-Point & ends like a Korean version of The Crazies. The movies climax doesn’t do the film any favours. The origins of the virus & what it is are never explained & the ending feels almost rushed which is surprising for a movie that moves with an almost pedestrian pace. There is also one scene that hints at a zombie style infection which is never followed up & at complete odds with everything else in the movie. Despite this there is a lot to commend in this movie. The setting of GP506 is wonderfully atmospheric & foreboding & the cinematography is excellent. The acting too, is first-rate. Its an ensemble piece & each & every actor puts in a fine performance. For me GP506 is a paradox. It should have been great, it just wasn’t.
GP506 is movie which a lot of people may enjoy. I would certainly advise anyone reading this to watch the movie & make their own mind up. Personally for me this movie just didn’t deliver but as they say, one man’s fish is another man’s poison. Worth a watch if you like slow-moving mysteries.
“I smell like blood”
It burns my eyes! I’m not sure if there are enough negative adjectives in the English language to truly do justice to just how utterly appalling this movie really is. The movie’s poster & advertising campaign proudly boast that the movie is banned in its homeland. I’m guessing that is because Korea has a thriving film industry & doesn’t want to be associated with such an amateurish & inept movie like The Butcher.
The plot for what little of it The Butcher has is set in a large barn. As the movie begins four people are bound & gagged, slumped on the floor with cameras placed on their heads. These cameras are to give us a victims POV of what happens to them (nice idea, awful execution) Soon “the director” arrives with his idiot assistant in tow. They divide the four into two groups, one consisting of a husband & wife, the other two men. The later group is then dragged to another room where from the married couples perspective we hear a chainsaw & lots of screaming. After a few minutes (yet seems like hours) the filmmakers return with a large steel bucket, which has the carved up body parts of the first two victims. The couple is lead into the other room where the “star” of the films is waiting. A big guy wearing a butchers apron & a pig’s head.
Where do I even start with this mess, ok the beginning. The very first shot of the movie is a POV shot of a guy taking a piss up the wall of the barn! Classy eh?! Without doubt The Butcher is the worst example of shaky cam ever. The view from the cameras on the victim’s heads is nauseating, constantly in motion & rarely in focus, its headache inducing. There is zero character development, leaving the film with “bad guys” & “fodder” Even here the movie drops the ball, one of the victims behaves in such a selfish manner that you lose even the slightest shred of empathy you had with his plight & actually want him to meet a nasty end. The acting is… well you can’t even call it acting. The victims scream, a lot. Irritating, eardrum piercing screams (& that is just the guy) The director proves he is a bad guy by swearing a lot & having to deliver some of the worst dialogue this side of an Ed Wood movie. So… is it really that violent it deserved to be banned? Not in the slightest, a few fingers are cut off with the chainsaw. One guy gets raped, a few hammer hits & a couple of stabbings! That’s it! No over the top gorefest, no heave inducing dismemberements, no sadism! This is no Tumbling Doll Of Flesh or Flowers Of Flesh & Blood. Even Hostel had more blood in it! The movie’s ending is dire, perfectly matching everything that went before it. The film has a blessedly short running time, it clocks in at 75 minutes but trust me it feels like hours!The movie’s director Jin-won Kim should be banned from making movies & never be allowed within 20 feet of a camera for the rest of his life.
In closing this movie is one of the worst I have ever seen & is headed straight for my Hall Of Shame. I would have had more fun masturbating with a cheese grater using vinegar as lubricant instead of watching this mess. Avoid this film like you would a dose of herpes!