The Inerasable Movie Review
Written by Angry Scholar
Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura
Written by Fuyumi Ono (original novel), Kenichi Suzuki
2015, 107 minutes, Not Rated
Showed at Fantasia 2016 on July 22nd, 2016
Ai Hashimoto as Kubo
Yuko Takeuchi as Ai
Ai is a fiction writer. She’s working on a series of short stories based on the real-life paranormal experiences of her readers, who submit their accounts to her by mail. When a college student named Kubo contacts Ai about strange events in her apartment, Ai begins an investigation that quickly links Kubo’s supernatural experiences to a growing number of seemingly unrelated events. Her investigation moves rapidly from the safety of fiction to a dark reality of tragedy, murder, and supernatural evil.
Ai enlists the aid of some writer friends, as well as the “mystery club” from Kubo’s university, and together they research the history of Kubo’s apartment complex and the families who once lived on the land where it now stands. If research was all that was at stake, it wouldn’t be much of a ghost story; but of course it turns out that meddling with evil spirits can get you into trouble. We quickly learn that the ghost in Kubo’s apartment is only the tip of the ghostly iceberg, and that she isn’t the only one in her building suffering from its presence: her new neighbors also experience the haunting, and quickly move out. Ai’s research takes on new importance when she and Kubo link the haunting to the previous occupant’s suicide.
The Inerasable is the slowest of slow burns. Although the reality it suggests, wherein ghost stories are more than just stories, is a frightening one; the supernatural elements are never overtly scary. Most of the film centers on research, with tremendous amounts of exposition through dialogue. Fortunately, the acting is generally strong enough to carry it through these scenes, but fans of action-packed horror might be put off by the slow pace. It has a satisfyingly creepy atmosphere, particularly if you have a passing familiarity with Japanese culture, which is somewhat more open to the possibility of the supernatural than Western cultures. In a US context, it’s very unlikely that people would be as accepting of the ghostly events as the characters here are. Western horror films almost always have that annoying period of stubborn skepticism, the Scully effect, that prevents anything useful from being done until it’s nearly too late. But here people are willing to entertain the possibility of the paranormal pretty much from the outset.
Ai’s search for the history of Kubo’s haunting is mostly about research. If you like mysteries, folklore, library work, rifling through old documents, and interviewing old people—and also ghosts—there’s a lot here to like. It suffers from a slow pace and some uninspired computer effects, but it’s smart and interesting and spooky enough to enjoy. I’ve lived in Japan for about a year now, and undoubtedly this contributes to my enjoyment of this film, which is after all pretty culturally specific; but if you appreciate a smart, thoughtful ghost story, I think you’ll like it too.