Koji Shiraishi is interested in strange indiscriminate murder at a sightseeing resort. He goes behind the camera to investigate the circumstances surrounding strange occurrences and interview the survivors.
The Scariest Film I've Ever Seen, and I've Seen A Lot
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Anyone familiar with horror films knows that most of them are not scary at all. Some people enjoy gorefests with subpar story lines and character development. I personally enjoy horror films that focus on atmosphere and interesting concepts (e.g., A Tale of Two Sisters, Kairo, etc.). Whatever the type of horror film one personally likes, there are only a select few that really scare you. Noroi is one of them.
This is a documentary-style movie, which means that the entire film is a compilation of video clips that are linked by the legend of a demonic entity named Kagutaba. The premise is that a journalist filmed his own footage by interviewing people associated with the demonic rituals associated with Kagutaba, then compiled footage from other sources that link with his research. What results is a relentlessly chilling experience that feels very real and very disturbing, despite the fact that the story itself is fake.
Some have compared Noroi with The Blair Witch Project, but the only similarity is the documentary style. One obvious difference between the films is that Noroi scares the viewer by linking events to one another using different sources. For example, the journalist records the exterior of a house that he is researching and sees something strange on the porch. Later in the film, a clip from another character's home video introduces that very same strange occurrence. The viewer's memory links the two incidents and chills start running down their spine. Another example involves a television show with a child psychic who answers every single question correctly except for one. In fact, her answer is so wrong that the viewer may wonder what the filmmakers were thinking. Later on, however, that wrong answer turns out to be linked to an extremely disturbing event. This is intelligent film-making indeed.
Another difference between Noroi and Blair Witch is that Noroi provides not one, but two very long finales, the second of which is placed a minute after the credits start to roll and is the single greatest scare scene in the history of horror cinema. I do not say such things lightly. It totally wrecked me in a wonderous way.
Other aspects of film-making are well done. The legend and ritualistic background of Kagutaba are very interesting and most of the actors did a good job. The only over-the-top performance comes from a guy who's supposed to be crazy anyway, so that's expected. The cinematography is intentionally gritty because all of the footage is supposed to represent videos shot on camcorders. Japanese films are not known for their special effects, but the effects used here were awesome. In some cases they create an other-worldly feel (e.g., the static interference or the first finale) but in other cases they are alarmingly realistic (e.g., the second finale).
When all is said and done, Noroi goes down as the scariest film I've ever seen. I would go so far as to say that there is no film in existence that provides such sheer terror from beginning to end like Noroi does. See it now.
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