Japanese Urban Legend and Folklore comes alive ... or close to it ...
I was forced to get the VCD from Singapore in January, as in Japan the DVD releases have no English subtitles. The VCD has 2 discs: both Shibuya Kaidan 1 and 2 (The Locker 1 and 2).
The whole idea is that people put a gift in a magic coin locker and they will get the love of their life or various wishes granted - however that kind of stuff never goes smoothly in Japan does it, and as they say: There is no such thing as a free lunch! Without spoiling anything, I will say that there are mysterys to be solved, and demonic long-haired (understatement) ghost girls to run away from.
I'd recommend it for a J-horror fan, but be warned that they are not glossy films, and the first one is especially schlocky in parts. SK1 is VERY low budget, and that was not helped by bad compression on the first disc. The acting is not of the highest quality, but sometimes that works in a horror film's favour, making the actors more believable. The film has some good scares, and some icky moments.
SK2 is much better though, and has some inspired scares and scenes, and though it is still low budget, it has some good CGI effects. Overall the production for the 2nd film is much better, and so is the acting. It follows on directly from the events that transpired in the first film, and pulls the story towards a pretty chilling finale.
Many who see these 2 films will no doubt compare them to Ring, Juon. It is true that both Shibuya Kaidan films seem familiar in parts, but please remember that most J-Horror films, derive from the same sources. Folklore and Urban Legends have inspired some awesome set pieces in Shibuya Kaidan films, and I suggest NOT reading the Urban Legends section of the official site, since they are actually scenes in the films! You have been warned! I have talked to friends here in Japan about ghost stories, and Japan is rich with them. While these films are not going to redefine the genre, they do, by using existing legends, add something too it, and I think they are worth seeing, especially the second film. To say that one J-Horror film is ripping off another is often presumtious. It would be better to say that it is indicitive of the Japanese culture of spirits, ghosts, and demons.
I enjoyed watching the Shibuya Kaidan 1 and 2, though I was a little embarrassed by the first film, as I watched it for the first time with some J-Horror Virgin friends, and they just didn't get it. I made them watch Kairo afterwards so as to give them a better impression of the genre. Like I said above, these films would be best appreciated by those that treasure the J-Horror Genre, and are interested in something different to watch, that is both creepy, and insightful into the supernatural world of Japanese Legend.
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