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Brian Fowler

Halloween Havoc VII!!!!!!!!!

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PopThe sun has set, the devil has risen, fear rattles your bones for it is Halloween Havoc 2016!

Film: NOROI The Curse

Chosen by: J.T.

Just found out that the full movie of NOROI: The Curse is available legally on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilHmpETJgZ0

So that is my pick.  Easily available.

Reviewed by: S.K.o.S.

I was assigned the Japanese movie Noroi: The Curse, also known as the J.T. Special.  I had watched this before, in October 2012, but it was a pleasure to revisit.  Some people like to summarize the entire movie in their reviews, but taking that approach here would be a fool’s errand as there is simply far too much that happens for me to be able to cover it all.  I can tell you that the movie presents a (fictional) documentary put together by a (fictional) paranormal researcher named Masafumi Kobayashi.  It’s a found footage sort of deal, except that the movie also bookends Kobayashi’s work with a short prologue and epilogue.  The story begins with Kobayashi visiting and interviewing a woman who complains of hearing strange noises from her next-door neighbor’s place, and takes off from there.

Although I never actually believed this was a true story, they do a good job at creating a sense of realism, starting off with a viewer discretion warning, and not showing any opening or closing credits other than for Kobayashi and his cameraman.  Kobayashi’s footage is interspersed with clips of news programs and variety shows that further the plot and introduce us to new characters, and many of the people that appear in these clips, like newscasters, are playing themselves.  That was actually lost on me until I checked IMDB afterwards, as it would be on most viewers outside of Japan, but I appreciated the effort.

Other than Kobayashi himself, the main characters are three people with varying degrees of psychic ability: an 11-year-old girl named Kana, an actress named Marika Matsumoto (she’s one of the people who plays themselves), and Mitsuo Hori, seemingly a crackpot who literally wears a tin foil hat.  Although they don’t know each other at the outset, all three seem to be sensing some sort of danger, and many people who come into contact with them are dying.  Kobayashi presumably only puts footage into his documentary when there’s something interesting to be seen, and the plot elements just keep piling up: pigeons, string tied into loops, dogs, and there’s even some Paranormal Activity nightcam footage.  It gets to the point where, like Lost, you’d think there’s no way this could all come together in the end, but here it actually does.

In spite of a near-total lack of both jump scares and gore, this movie is actually pretty scary.  The deliberate low-tech editing style plays a big part in that; there are pause-and-zoom moments where we’re pretty much having our faces rubbed in the sight of something frightening, deaths are handled as indelicately as possible without actually being shown, and even the frequent transitions marked by jump cuts to a silent black screen can be unsettling.

Ultimately I think what makes this a success is that it works hard to create a sense of dread and inevitable fate (Kana’s early line “I guess it’s too late for all of us” is a watershed moment in that department), but Kobayashi constantly being on the trail of some new clue keeps us at least a little distracted and makes it an enjoyable watch.  Or are we just following him like lemmings towards a horrible ending?  Either way.

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