Thursday, December 18, 2008

REVIEW: Reincarnation

輪廻 (Rinne)

Released: 2005

Director: Takashi Shimizu

Kippei Shiina
Tetta Sugimoto
Shun Oguri

Running time: 96 min.

Reviewed by Bob Turnbull

The director of the Ju-On/Grudge series of films (Takashi Shimizu) takes a break from long dark haired vengeful ghosts to focus on, well, another kind of vengeful ghost. "Reincarnation" was part of 2006's "8 Films To Die For" series in North America as well as volume 3 in the Japanese J-Horror Theater series (previous entries being "Infection" and "Premonition" - the latter having been remade as a Sandra Bullock vehicle).

After an initial setup that introduces three different people (and the ghosts of the people from whom they were reincarnated), the film settles into its main plotline - the filming of a horror movie based on a mass murder incident that took place 30 years previous. As the shoot goes on, a young actress sees flashbacks to the hotel that was the scene of the crime. Things get worse and more intense for young Nagisa as the production moves everyone to the actual hotel where the crime occurred in order to give the actors a better feeling of what happened. She feels that she may actually be the reincarnation of the young victim she plays in the movie.

The story is a bit jumbled, but I found this to be quite effective in disorienting the viewer until the end. Shimizu really knows how to build uneasy feelings with the surroundings he chooses, the sound field and those damn ghosts. He has a knack for creating images and moments that stay with you and usually come back to you late at night as you walk down a dark hallway to the bathroom or just before you flip the light switch to your basement. Typically these moments are quite subtle and you may even question what you just saw. In "Reincarnation" though, he also provides a couple of genuinely disturbing moments - in particular ones that involve the two children in the flashbacks.

The plot may be somewhat silly for some and perhaps doesn't completely hold up under scrutiny. He typically keeps the logic of his films consistent within the world he has setup, but he certainly stretches that at times in "Reincarnation". But in many ways it's kind of irrelevant...The plot is just the canvas on which he's painting his images - his attempts to leave the viewer with feelings of unease that stay with them long after the film is over. He wants you to feel that those things you think you see out of the corner of your eye are actually there. And that they are coming after you...

Read more from Bob Turnbull at his blog.

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