Gurozuka Movie Review
Written by John Colianni
DVD released by Synapse Films
Directed by Yôichi Nishiyama
Written by Tadayoshi Kubo and Ao Murata
2005, 84 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on January 10th, 2012
Nozomi Andô as Takako
Yukari Fukui as Yûka
Yûko Itô as Yôko
Yûko Kurosawa as Natsuki
Yoko Mitsuya as Maki
Chisato Morishita as Ai
Keiko Saito as Yayoi
Most horror sub genres carry their own styles and rather unique characteristics. Creature features tend to lean towards alien species or what hides from us in the dark. Supernatural and ghost stories tell tales of haunting spectres. Zombies flicks, well I think you get the idea. But there's always been something deeply different about Japanese horror cinema that has stood out among so many other genres. Maybe it has something to do with predominantly female casts, their deep psychological undertones or just the plain old, ridiculously gory and grizzly deaths they aren't afraid to portray for us on screen. This genre has contributed such amazing films such as Ringu and Ju-on: The Grudge, both which have been mimicked and remade by American filmmakers.
Yôichi Nishiyama's Gurozuka borrows many elements from already existing Japanese movie classics and attempts to bring you uneasiness and dread. The film revolves around a group of young women who are headed to an isolated house in the woods to practice roles for a play for their movie club (because who wouldn't just go over a friends house?). On the way there, they begin discussing an event that occurred in the home before their arrival. Supposedly a former club member went insane and another went missing. First off, if this was something that I had known about prior to my fun weekend outing, I would respectfully decline the invite. And another thing, why the hell would this specific location be an option for this fun-filled trip when you know people went ape shit and were never found again? That's just poor planning on everyone's part. Upon arriving, the girls find a video of a woman in a Japanese deigan mask supposedly committing a murder on tape. As you would guess, they start disappearing one by one, dying in random succession.
While this is a plot I'm sure most of us as avid horror fans are used to and have come to love over and over again, there are too many things that Gurozuka is lacking. The initial pacing of the movie is perfect. Characters are introduced as clean slates and begin to unfold during the car trip to their retreat. The tone and mood is quickly set to ominous and unnerving. Even the eerie music (which after the fifth time you hear it gets rather annoying) does its job letting the audience know when things are about to get real. But that's where things stop. As characters get offed by the film's villain, the movie becomes rather predictable, but that's not even the main issue here: Gurozuka is rushed. Even with a running time of over an hour and twenty minutes, I left the movie not giving a damn about any of the characters. There is nothing spectacular about their deaths. Gory is almost non-existent. And after the movie has come to its end, nothing that has just transpired is surprising or shocking in the least bit.
So if you happen to be looking for a flick that will shock and scare you, leaving that uneasiness in the back of your mind like so many Japanese movies have over the years, you might finding yourself disappointed by Gurozuka. While this has much to be improved on, it does a decent initial job in gearing up for some awesome scares and deaths, but leaves the audience wondering exactly when the hell heads will start to roll, and when they do, it ends up being painfully boring.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.