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More people are once again discovering the blog with the game of 'Hide And Seek Alone' described on it. More people play it, and more people disappear. A teacher named Ms. Kashiwaga decides that after the disappearances of several students and her coworkers, she must seek answers about the game and the players' fates from an unlikely source.
Oh look, it's this again. A sequel in name only to Tomoya Kainuma's debut film, HIDE AND GO KILL is a return to more people tempting fate by essentially cursing yourself and inviting death on your ass by summoning a ghost that looks all too familiar to many J-horror ghost stories. This time around, another freshman director, Masafumi Yamada, is at the helm. Is it more of the same ghost story stuff involving ladies with long black hair and walking funny, or do we get more to it this time?
While it's more of the same again for this sequel, Yamada does try to break things up a bit. First, instead of following things in reverse order as well as having the multiple perspectives like in the previous film, this time the narrative is much more linear. In addition, the film is told through one character's perspective, Ms. Kashiwaga, who becomes an amateur detective in finding out just what exactly is going on with this damn game. The nice twist about this film is the fact that one of the missing students originally intended to use the game to get rid of someone. But like every instance of 'using evil for evil' in countless other films, we all know how that turns out.
In addition, this film differs from its predecessor in the form of more character development, as well as also being more visually focused. The encounters with the ghosts are also more unsettling and prolonged this time, too. In fact, those of you who don't like things happening to people's fingernails might want to turn away when the scene I'm referring to happens. Top it all off with a great score that enhances the tense audio portion of the film (which as noted previously is such a big component of a ghost story film like this), and it's rather unsettling.
The film's weakness comes in the form of a trade-off with its character development: the pacing. It's really just too damn slow, at times in between people playing the game. Also, while things are unsettling, they never amount to anything scary. Just as in the first film, you have creepy images of the ghosts, but never anything that will make you jump. And yes, the same look of the ghost from RINGU onwards is back, which is so far past the point of annoyance for me that I just lost interest in the film.
Is HIDE AND GO KILL 2 better than the first film? No, but it's not worse, either. Both films are on the 'meh' side of things, and really didn't do anything for me. Again, folks who enjoy this niche of J-horror will get more out of it than the rest of us, who'd probably rather be seeing something new in the genre.
Video: Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the film looks similar to the first film, in that the colors are saturated nicely with slightly sharper visuals. The darker scenes show more noise obviously, but don't have that weird shimmering effect from the first film.
Audio: The Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese Stereo track is again like the previous film's mix, which was adequate for the film, given the budget. The audio sounds clear and consistent, with a focus on the ambient effects. There are no problems with distortion or background noise.
The only extras are again an image gallery with music from the film playing in the background, and a promo image gallery of titles that are available on DVD from Cinema Epoch.
Again, it's more of the same from the first film. While the change in narrative is nice, along with more focus on character development and encounters with the ghost, the pacing lags and really doesn't change the fact that you've seen this all before in other movies. Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it more than the rest of us.