The Booth (aka Busu) DVD Review
Written by Neon Maniac
DVD released by Tartan Video
Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura
2005, Region 1 (NTSC), 74 Minutes, Not rated
DVD released on May 23rd, 2006
Shingo is the host of the late night radio talk show, Tokyo Loveline. With wit and charm, he dispenses his off the cuff relationship advice to thousands of listeners around the city. He's handsome, he's popular, and he's got the women eating out of his hand. He's also got a major ego, and the bad habit of being a complete jerk. That's okay, though. He doesn't mind.
Everything is going great, until one night when he has to do his show from Studio 6. Shutdown years ago, Studio 6 is rumored to be haunted. A long time ago, another egotistical jerk doing a relationship advice call-in show hanged himself during his show. It's said that the host, or perhaps whatever caused him to hang himself, still resides in Studio 6.
Tonight, Shingo will find out for sure.
At first glance, The Booth may seem a bit lean with a running time of 74 minutes. That is not the case at all. The film could have lingered over certain scenes, and even expanded upon parts of the plot to bring it to a more standard 90+ minutes. But I am glad they didn't. Too many movies, especially Japanese ones, seem to do that. Very little story, very long running time, lots of navel gazing introspection. Instead, The Booth gives us a lean, mean, story packed 74 minutes of increasing tension. And that's what The Booth is all about.
The film takes place real time during Shingo's radio show. At the beginning we see the happy-go-lucky host and his late night staff doing a highly entertaining late night call in show devoted to relationship problems. With each passing minute, the jovial atmosphere of the show and staff are changed. As the movie goes on, we slowly see tensions rise as Shingo descends into a madness brought on by his callers and the technical problems plaguing the show. The once friendly staff slowly turns into enemies as Shingo's guilt and paranoia begin to take over. Through flashbacks, we see how Shingo relates his callers' problems to his own despicable behavior, and how Shingo has every right to be paranoid. The tension keeps building until the end of the show, and the inevitable conclusion to the movie. It doesn't give you a break, which is fine with me.
As a film, The Booth is very well done. Filmed in an actual outdated studio at Japan's Nippon Broadcasting, the authentic set adds to the realism of the film; something that many movies lose to bad location decisions. As the name implies, the booth is as much a character in this movie as Shingo or any of his staff are. Coming from a background in radio, I was delighted to see the real thing, and not another half-assed attempt by a set designer who just gets it wrong.
Also, The Booth has a nice psychological aspect to it, something that is lacking in a lot of Asian horror. It is a nice example of good, tight storytelling. Without giving too much away, you will find yourself feeling all smarmy and well for predicting exactly what's going on in this movie. You will relish your intelligence and handsomeness as all of your predictions come true, and you are proven to be correct time and time again. And then The Booth will show you how easily you were led, how wrong you were, and what a maroon you really are for falling for all of it's gimmicks.
Step into The Booth and spend a Saturday night with Shingo's Tokyo Loveline. It's worth a listen.
Video and Audio:
The Booth has a slick 16x9 anamorphic presentation. No signs of macroblocking were found, and the picture was sharp and clear with just the right amount of film grain to keep it interesting.
The Booth comes with both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a DTS 5.1 original Japanese language soundtrack. Both tracks sound great and the listener will have a hard time telling them apart. Use your personal preference when picking which track to listen to.
The DVD contains the usual suspects when it comes to Special Features. There's the standard theatrical trailer as well as trailers for other Tartan USA films, a "making of" documentary, a Q&A session with the director and lead actor, and radio interview with the filmmakers. The features are average to good, but are quick enough to watch that they do not get boring.