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“Do you want to see a real ghost?”
I’d had never seen any of famed Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s films until
Kairo (also known as Pulse) bust my cherry. Well if this flick is any indication of what is filmmography is all about…I’M THERE!
Kairo was as odd watch for my simpleton Westerner self. Its a horror movie in the sense that its filled with frightening ghostly apparitions, dread and spooky events but yet at the same time, boo scares are absent, gore is out the door and there isn’t really a villain here; just a reality that we are asked to accept. You bet your ass I did! If somebody asked me what the picture was about beyond the initial premise I would be somewhat at a loss for words. The film is semi left open to interpretation and what I got out of it is not necessarily what you’ll snatch. With that said; for me, the film was truly about the theme of loneliness. Loneliness in the afterlife (sucks to be a ghost it seems) and loneliness in the land of the living, as technology advances, the more alone we become. Yes I perceived the picture as some odd supernatural social commentary. This was not a straight forward nail biter.
That’s not to say that fear wasn’t on the menu. As opposed to most rock and shock American horror jamborees, Kairo played its card in a singular manner. Instead of jumps and gross outs we get slow, engrossing reveals of the horror at hand, disturbing imagery (all about that dancing specter) and eerie settings. That’s where the horror was derived from here. Will it startle you? That’s your call, me, it gave me the freaking creeps. The distinctive look of the picture backed up the film’s terror factor as well. All felt drab, colorless and draped in dark, menacing shadows. The world of Kairo was not a happy place! No puppy dogs and hookers here! It almost felt like the director (and his DOP for that matter) had a razor blade to his wrist as he shot it, discouraged as to the world he lives in. Finally the latter point did go hand in hand with the odd plot line. All I’ll say is that what starts small goes on to spread wide. What eventually happens and the novel execution in which they communicated it blew me away. WOW!
On the “help I’m lost” side of the dagger, Kairo left me in the dust more than usual in terms of “what the fuck is going on” in this Japanese cookie. Its hard to remains fully involved within a narrative when you’re totally lost and know that you should be understanding the happenings (as opposed to Lynch stuff where you know that you’re not supposed to know shite). Furthermore, I’ll admit it, more physical action and energy spurts in the pacing (the film plays it one note throughout) would’ve been appreciated but that’s my own individual tastes yapping. With that said, I grasped enough to be totally mesmerized by it. Kairo is not for everybody, its slow, confusing and fairly action-less but if you’re in the mood for some existentialism with your glass of blood curling chills, this is a pulse that you might want to feel for (Did I just write that? LAME!)