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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Tomoya Kainuma

Saki Yamaguchi
Haruka Misaki
Rui Ôno

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What's it about

A mysterious blog begins with the phrase "I have to play hide an seek by myself to escape the loneliness." With it, a new game called 'Hide and Seek Alone' is found and becomes all the rage for a group of lonely Japanese schoolgirls. Break the rules, bad shite goes down. Unfortunately for each subsequent participant, things don't go as they should.

Is it good movie?

Certainly the attention-grabber of a title, isn't it? HIDE AND GO KILL is the debut film of Japanese filmmaker Tomoya Kainuma, which involves ghosts messing with teenagers messing with ghosts. Sounds familiar, I know. Can you guess what the ghosts look like? Yeah, it's another one of those long-haired types. I know some people eat this stuff up like candy, but not me. That said, HIDE AND GO KILL tries its hardest, but comes off as more of the same.

One of the things you need for an effective ghost story is atmosphere, and HIDE AND GO KILL does provide the effective moments throughout its 75-minute runtime. Amidst all of the creaking made by whatever was summoned and the human-shaped shadows that appear in darkened rooms, the film goes out of its way to make stuffed animals threatening. One such moment involves Midori waking up in the middle to find all of her stuffed animals in her room staring at her, the camera panning over groups of them at a time. So what's Midori to do but to turn them all around. Sounds silly, but damn it that wasn't unsettling. Really, who wants a pair of eyes staring at you while you sleep?

Really though, the film just didn't do it for me. The whole concept of this 'game' from the start is way too complex and just plain silly. Maybe it's a cross-cultural thing, I don't know. Here's how it goes, and man, is it a long one:

Take a stuffed doll or animal and give it a name. Once you've named it, cut it open, remove all the stuffing and replace it with rice and your nail clippings, and sew it back up using a needle and red thread. Then, wrap the doll in the remainder of the thread. At precisely 3am take your stuffed animal to the bathroom, holding it in both hands and say "For the first game I'm (state your name) going to be it." Say it three times and then drop the doll in water. Turn off all the lights in the house. Optionally, you may turn on the TV, but it must be an off-air static-filled station. Close your eyes and count to ten. Open your eyes and take a knife and return to the bathroom where you must find the doll and say "I found you (state dolls name here)", then stab it.

Next, you say "Okay, now (name of dolls here) is it" The Japanese word for "it" is Oni or "Devil" or "demon". Essentially, you're saying that the doll is the Devil. Leaving the impaled doll in the bathroom, you must run from the room and hide quietly in a closet or similar small space, bringing a glass of salt water with you when you hide. The idea is to remain hidden in your space until sunrise or for as log as you can despite what you may hear, see or feel. No matter what happen you must stay hidden. At sunrise, fill your mouth with as much salt water as you can. Go to the bathroom where you left the doll, keeping in mind that it may not still be there. Search until you find it, and when you do find it, spit the water on the doll and say "I won" three times. The last part is to burn the doll. Mess up any of the 'steps', and you can kiss your ass goodbye thanks to the ghost that is summonsed by the incantation.

Fun, huh?

And I know, there are stupid games you play as teens like Bloody Mary, but even that has a simpler concept that anyone can do and was 'scary'. This? This just tries too hard. Add to that lacklustre some scares from the ghosts (saying 'I found you' doesn't work when you show the same shots of the ghost opening the closet over and over) and characters we really don't get attached to (introduce, play game, dead), and that's HIDE AND GO KILL. Fans of the vengeful Asian ghost genre might get some enjoyment out of this one, but for the rest of us, it's probably a rent and forget affair.

Video / Audio

Video: Shot on DV, anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfer looks pretty good. Colours and black levels are great, though detail is a bit lacking in areas. The biggest problem areas are the darker scenes, where the details become murky, and there's a weird shimmering of the edges. It's suitable for a lower-budgeted release, but don't expect to be wowed.

Audio: The sole audio track comes in the form of a Dolby Digital Japanese 2.0 Stereo mix that sounds clear and balanced. The track handles the ambient sounds nicely, providing that needed creepy feeling. Removable English subtitles are included that are easy to follow and error-free.

The Extras

The only extras available for the film is an image gallery with music from the film playing in the background, as well as a promo image gallery of other titles available from Cinema Epoch.

Last Call

While a good effort from a first-time director, HIDE AND GO KILL is more of the same when it comes to long-haired Asian ghosts popping up and messing with stupid people. While the concept is interesting, it's too complicated to be seen as something that teenagers would flock to do, along with characters you don't really get attached to. A rental at best.

star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT

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