Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
When a director decides to make a movie about a tragic mass murder that took place in a spooky hotel, things get a little… J-horror-ish. As his cast and others start to die, his lead actress is haunted by images of the man who murdered his wife and children along with a few others. All she wanted was a lead role in a horror movie...
Is it good movie?
When a horror director decides to make a film based on a tragic event in an old hotel, things get spooky. He carefully casts his roles, including a young actress that he can’t take his eyes off of at the audition. The actress, Nagisa, played by Yuka, is persuaded by her friend and manager to take the role. At first, she is excited, but she soon realizes something is very wrong. Her memories of the hotel and another creepy girl invade her as she has visions of the man who murdered his family and several of the staff working that evening only to take his own life. Is she drawn to the hotel, only to relive the nightmare? Or is it all in her mind? Yes, the crazy card is played here but it’s played well. And once these poor saps start to die mysterious and strange deaths, I knew it wasn’t Kansas anymore. Takashi Shimizu is not really trying to recreate Ju-On or The Grudge. Although he is treading is familiar territory, the slow build and the twists that occur make this an atmospheric tale of what happens after we die which feels fresh and hauntingly chilling. Do we return to pay for our sins?
What's really fascinating about the idea of reincarnation is that it is not used that often in horror. Especially in American films, being that we are a very Christian based society so the idea that there are other answers or possibilities seems ludicrous (not the rapper) to many here. I for one think the concept is intriguing and I am fascinated by the idea of having many lives where we must pay for what we have done in the past. I don't necessarily believe it but I wouldn't discard it any more than I would any of the other spiritual notions going around. And as a concept for a horror film, it seems to be a very intriguing idea but one that is not always used well. But Reincarnation with its slow build is a strong entry into the J-horror realm, it works on many levels. There is very little gore but the eerie atmosphere and the constant reminders of what happened at the hotel are always apparent. At times I found the typical elements found in this kind of horror, but it is able to surpass it with hints of American horror woven in. There is a little bit of The Shining here without feeling like a rip-off.
It may be hard for someone coming into this film to appreciate if they have absolutely no understanding of Japanese culture. The way they work as filmmaker's inside the movie and the way that ghost's of the past become a part of everyday life. It is very different and at times may seem confusing or silly, but just get past the basic idea of heaven and hell and treat this as a ghost story with very old ideas of death not truly being the end. In fact, what makes much of it work is that concept alone, what could be worse than death if death is not the end? I won't go into details here, but you may feel the same way if you take a look. I also felt that the film within a film was used well here. Much like the spiritual beliefs, there seems to be a different feel of making a movie over seas. It is expressed well and it also adds to the mystery of, ‘maybe this chick’s just really trying to get into character and going the Looney Tunes route’. And this film also has one creepy ass doll. Trust me… why would any little girl want this thing. That thing be spooky.
Video / Audio
Video: The 1.78:1 Widescreen transfer is good but at times felt a bit dark. But that could have been the TV I was watching it on.
Audio: The 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio is very clear and makes good use of the haunting sounds of reincarnation.
The extras are not bad. I always appreciate a good commentary track and you won’t find that on here, except for additional commentary on Deleted Scenes (26:19) which includes a much longer beginning that gives away too much and another killing of a pre-teen boy without the polish so it looks… how shall I say, not good. Some of these work but as a whole, these were terrific choices to go in the deleted scenes category. And I recommend checking out the commentary here. It was very funny to listen to the filmmakers laugh at their work.
The Director’s Introduction (:43) is exactly what it sounds like… a director’s introduction.
The Making of Reincarnation (57:29) is an interesting look at the making of the film. It is not overly stylized and really focuses on the filmmaking process with most of the major set pieces. It documents the production until the final day which is a day before Yuka’s birthday, which they celebrate. Fun times.
Memories of Reincarnation (10:06) is an extended interview with director, Takashi Shimizu which reveals why he leans to horror and how the film came about, the difference between American and Japanese horror and reincarnation itself. I like this guy and I appreciate his respect for the genre, which usually makes a good horror director.
Finally, we get a bunch of Trailers for “Dark Ride”, “The Hamiltons”, “The Gravedancers”, “Unrest”, “Penny Dreadful” and “Wicked Little Things”.
One of the best in the After Dark Horrorfest, Reincarnation continues in the vein of Ju-On yet lingers between J-horror and American horror. The idea of paying for what we have done is very intriguing. And as the discoveries are made while the filmmakers explore the haunted history of a tragedy; the atmospheric tale takes hold of the viewer. One may not understand or relate to the idea of reincarnation and you don’t have to be. This is a ghost story that explores similar territory as many others do; the idea that the dead must find peace yet this film focuses on this from a different angle. With some inventive direction and a very competent cast, this is one life you should definitely live.