Saturday, October 5, 2013

Movie Appraisal: Retribution (Sakebi) (叫) (Scream) (Shriek) (2006)

Well, that was a movie I did not enjoy. While it is the fourth movie in the J-Horror Theater series of movies, and it is directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, it just does not do enough to be interesting. I was quite fond of 2001's Kairo but this movie just does not deliver on many of the same fronts that other better horror movies have. I found this movie to be very slow, something I usually like, but also just kind of odd in places. It was so slow as to become very dry and somewhat boring, and it never really did anything. The shots were sterile, the plot was fairly dull and predictable, and the acting, something I usually praise, was subpar.

The confusing plot did not help this film. And it's not as if the plot isn't spelled out either, but the confusion is more about why everything is happening the way it does. Why does the lady in red's ghost seem so powerful? She's so powerful that she can bring about the deaths of everyone? I mean, that's the point, right? That's ridiculous. I know it's also the ending, but even before that, I found little about this movie to like.

Most of the characters do not work for me. They never feel real or emotional. They never feel like people. They feel like set-pieces and window-dressing. The acting made me bored out of my skull as well. I'm not looking for overly complex screaming and emotional acting, but there has to be something more than what was given. The shots of the actors were so sterile and separate from the movie as well that I found it very hard to relate to those characters. It was incredibly disappointing because I went into this movie with a great deal of hope for something compelling.

Anyway, the plot is basically about a detective following a murder case (and eventually a string of murder cases) that involves drowning in sea water. It is very procedural, trying to find the suspect, and the detective being his own prime suspect for a while, which just kind of goes nowhere and is really dumb. He eventually starts seeing what he thinks is the murdered girl's ghost, but it isn't. It's just another girl in a red dress who happens to be a ghost. It just feels very silly and very uninteresting.

The movie is never scary. The red dress ghost is simply kind of goofy looking. She never looks like she belongs in a single scene. It doesn't work, whatever they did in the shooting of this film, and it makes the whole premise not only ridiculous but really bland as well. You can tell that they wanted to create a new horror icon about a creepy girl, but a ninety pound young woman will never be scary, okay? Horror movies, do you understand that? Young women are not scary by themselves just staring or saying weird things. You have to have more than that. Give me some tension or show me less or something.

I simply want to sigh and stop talking about this movie. I did not enjoy it in the slightest. I think others might, but for me the plot and the premise were too silly for me to take seriously. And without any scares this is hardly a horror movie. I've seen others place it in a mystery movie category, but even that's not right because so much of this movie isn't mystery so much as "Oh, we forgot to tell you major plot points!" I mean, the detective's girlfriend just happened to be murdered six months previous despite her having appeared in three-quarters of the movie seemingly perfectly fine. Why even do that? It just makes the whole thing needlessly complex. I get that the whole movie is basically an apocalyptic scenario over collective guilt or whatever, but it's so badly portrayed. It doesn't work on so many levels. And while I tend to like slow-burning horror, this movie has so many convenient excuses for plot that it bordered on actual bad plot writing.

I think many people might enjoy this one, but I certainly did not. I wholly do not recommend this movie, and would actively tell people to avoid it. There are some decent scenes here and there, but nothing interesting enough to recommend the whole movie. The music (and lack thereof at times) is fairly well done. And... I guess I really did like one scene, when the detective's partner disappears or is dragged into a bowl of water. It was well done. And it was perhaps the only scene that was.

It's disappointing to me because I found Kairo so compelling. It was a movie I remembered for years and years, and this movie will go down in my mind and my review as a forgettable and jumbled mess.

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