A documentary filmmaker explores seemingly unrelated paranormal incidents connected by the legend of an ancient demon called the “kagutaba.”
Listen up you fans of found-footage and mockumentary horror films, because that’s what we have here. Noroi is a Japanese horror film from 2005, directed by Kôji Shirashi who most recently directed The Ring vs. The Grudge (no, seriously). This came up on a number of “the best found-footage movies” and “the best horror you’ve never seen” type lists, and so I jumped in with both feet, hoping for a genuinely spooky experience.
It actually starts off with some promise, and feels like a real documentary for the majority of the film. Looked at as a whole, the movie is littered with genuinely spooky moments, and disturbing images, but unfortunately it winds up being, overall, a disappointing experience more than a scary one.
The biggest problem with Noroi comes from the story, and the run-time. The movie is very nearly two hours long, and full to the brim with characters and seemingly disconnected story threads. Had pieces been removed to make the film shorter, and ultimately more cohesive, this would have been a genuinely great horror film. Unfortunately, you’re stuck with a movie with far too many characters, and no real sense of structure or pacing.
I found myself getting a bit lost as to what exactly was trying to be communicated, or how all of the pieces fit together.
Of course, that’s not to say the movie doesn’t work, or even that it is a bad movie. Rather, it just takes far too long and becomes needlessly complex and convoluted. There are some great performances, and everyone in the film feels quite naturalistic, a rarity in movies like this. There doesn’t seem to be anyone who is really putting on a performance, but rather real people in terrifying situations.
Not being particularly well versed in Japanese pop culture, or cinema, there really weren’t many actors that I recognized, but it is entirely possible that you will know them. The plot centers around Masafumi Kobayashi, played by Jin Muraki, who really does a good job as the journalist and filmmaker. You also have Marika Matsumoto, who plays herself in the film and this would likely lend some realism to the film to those familiar with Marika in pop culture.
This is another one that is neither really great or really bad, falling into the limbo between, and creating an overlong mess that could have been so much better. You’ll likely find it an entertaining one, but it’s a bit of a slog in places. Give it a watch if this is the kind of movie you’re into, just be ready to feel the length in a very real way.
MY RATING: ***