Shock Labyrinth 3D Blu-ray Review
Directed by Takashi Shimizu
Written by Daisuke Hosaka
2009, NTSC, 89 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on May 8th, 2012
Yûya Yagira as Ken
Ai Maeda as Rin
Misako Renbutsu as Yuki
Ryo Katsuji as Motoko
Erina Mizuno as Myiu
Shock Labyrinth 3D is the tale of amusement park shenanigans gone horribly wrong. As preteens, a group of friends decide to go into a closed-off house of horrors at the Fuji-Q Highland park in Japan (yes, a real place, and a real attraction). Once inside, one of the kids becomes separated from the rest, seemingly dragged into a dark abyss by unseen forces and thought never to be seen again. Fast forward ten years later, the now annoying teenagers get visited by their missing friend, still wearing the same pristine white dress, but appearing otherwise unkempt, distressed, and maniacal.
Taking their traumatized re-acquaintance to the nearby hospital, it becomes immediately evident that there is something amiss. The place is completely deserted without a doctor or patient in sight. Somehow the hospital has transformed itself into the old house of horrors (I’m a bit fuzzy as to how that all happened exactly) forcing the gang to relive the trauma from a decade prior. Floating stuffed animal backpacks, ghostly apparitions, and zombified mannequins all threaten the lives and sanity of the group, eventually killing them off one by one.
While Shock Labyrinth is marginal at best, it does have one thing going for it. The inspired grotesque amalgam of mannequins and zombies coupled with the horrendously unsettling creaking noise they make when they ambulate is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever witnessed in a horror flick. The rest is a rather disappointing and convoluted melodramatic mess of love triangles, self-imposed anguish, trite dialogue, and disjointed imagery. You would and should expect more from Takashi Shimizu, the director of Ju-On, Marebito, and The Grudge.
Regardless of my rather lackluster reception to Shock Labyrinth 3D, it reinforces the belief that one simply has to appreciate foreign horror. This is a prime example of the differences between movie makers home and abroad. When one makes a movie based on an amusement park ride in the U.S., we get a cliché ridden castrated family friendly horror comedy starring a non-threatening, well-past-their-prime comedian as the harmless, lifeless, heartless, gutless lead (ahem, The Haunted Mansion I’m looking at you). While in Japan, their movie based on an amusement park attraction attempts, at least, to offer up a creepy and violent affair that doesn’t pull any punches in regards to killing off the young cast. Shock Labyrinth 3D is massively flawed, but worthy of watching if for nothing more than to expand your appreciation of foreign horror making.
Video and Audio:
The video quality is marginal at best. A good majority of this film is shot in dimly lit corridors, which show off some heavy banding, crush, and artifacting. With that said, the Blu-ray version looks better than that of the DVD, with an obvious increase in detail and sharpness that is expected from the format. I cannot comment on the 3D aspect of Shock Labyrinth 3D as I have yet to become an adopter of that particular fad, but the few scenes that I suspect showcased the 3D were rather hokey in their implementation.
As for the audio, the dialogue track is usually well preserved and clear, which is always a plus in horror films that will often muddy that track due to all the other noises going on around it. Your surrounds won’t get an overly impressive workout, but there will be quality moments of creepy atmospheric sound emanating from them.
The special features are limp in this release and the half-hour of candid interview footage is only interesting for demonstrating how innocent and young the cast truly is. There is a lackluster ten minute behind-the-scenes featurette, and a snippet from what appears to be a discussion panel during the initial theatrical release of the film in Japan. I will admit to enjoying the scene where director Takashi Shimizu offers each of his cast a bouquet of flowers in appreciation on the day of wrapping principle photography. It was an unexpected and pleasant insight into a different culture. The Blu-ray release also comes with a complimentary DVD version of the film.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are not a reflection of the Blu-ray image. They were captured using the standard DVD.*