Marebito DVD Review
Reviewed by Neon Maniac
DVD released by Tartan Video
Directed by Takashi Shimizu
Written by Chiaki Konaka
2004, Region 1 (NTSC), 92 Minutes, Not rated
Masuoka, a freelance cameraman obsessed with trying to understand the nature of fear, accidentally captures footage of a man committing suicide in the Tokyo subway. Intrigued by the event, Masuoka returns to the scene, where he finds a passage into the underworld. Exploring the subterranean tunnels and caves of the netherworld, he finds a naked girl chained up in an alcove. Masuoka rescues her and brings her back home to his small apartment.
Once back home, Masuoka finds that she is not an ordinary girl. She does not eat, drink or speak. In many ways, she acts like a dog. Soon, a mysterious Man In Black begins following Masuoka and making anonymous calls to his cell phone. And who is that weird lady who Masuoka sees lurking under stairs and around corners? What has he gotten himself into, and should he go deeper? It's too late to back out now...
Filmed in only eight days, Marebito is an intriguing film. Based heavily on Richard Stark's Hollow Earth Theory, Marebito comes across as part folk tale and part suspense film. While it is not necessary to understand all of the mythological and literary references, it does make for richer viewing.
In many ways, Masuoka is like Max Renn from Cronenberg's Videodrome. A freelance cameraman, Masuoka is more comfortable when viewing life from behind the lens. He has seen everything, from the violent to the unexplained; and he wants to see more. He wants to experience something new, something terrifying. Something that will make an impact on his jaded soul. Masuoka's narration drives the story along, and slowly, subtly, his driving desires become our own.
Marebito is a very well done film, from a great horror director. While Takashi Shimizu may always be more well known for the Ju-On films, Marebito is definitely one of the best he has done so far. Similarly, screenwriter Chiaki Konaka might be better known for his work in anime, but this film adaptation of his own novel is superb. Actress Tonomi Miyashita is excellent as the mysterious girl, only known as F. She is both subtle, and animalistic. All traces of her humanity has been wiped from her.
Marebito is a must see for any self respecting J-Horror fan.
Video and Audio:
Marebito delivers a clean, crisp picture. This movie is unique, in that about half of the movie is seen through the 'eye' of Masuoka's camera lens. These scenes are of course rough and unfiltered; and provide a great contrast to the sharp, focused film we see the rest of the time. The only exception is when Masuoka is in the giant cave. There, the special effects of the enormous cavern are only slightly better than watching Marshall, Will and Holly run through Sleestak City. It's only a small part, and will not detract from the watchability of the film.
While most of the film takes place in dark lighting, no macroblocking was evident.
Marebito is presented with both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a DTS 5.1 soundtrack in the original Japanese. Both tracks sound excellent. Even with two 5.1 tracks, do not expect any major rumbling from your speakers, the soundtrack in Marebito is mainly dialog.
Special features on the disc include interviews with director Takashi Shimizu, actor Shinya Tsukamoto and producer Hiroshi Takahashi. There is also a trailer for Marebito, along with trailers for other Tartan releases. J-Horror fans will undoubtedly eat the interviews up, while the more casual fan might find themselves pressing the Menu button.
(Neon's Movie Lounge contains a Zenith 42" Plasma EDTV, Oppo DV971H DVD player using a DVI connection, Pioneer 815 7.1 receiver and JBL Northridge E Series speakers.)