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  • Writer's pictureKelly M. Hudson

A Curse Upon You!

Masafumi Kobayashi (Jin Muraki) is a Japanese investigator of the paranormal. He researches and puts together short documentaries of his studies of haunted houses, poltergeists, and demonic entities. Somewhere along the line, his house mysteriously burned down, killing his wife, and he disappeared. Investigators found a videotape he was putting together regarding his latest inquiry, and it shows Kobayashi descending into a world of madness and the supernatural. The story involves a strange woman with a small boy and people associated with her who die in strange ways. Kobayashi suspects a curse of some kind, and his enquiries lead him to an old village submerged for the building of a dam, an ancient demon, a crazy, tin-foil hat wearing psychic, and a missing psychic girl. He follows the threads, interviewing people who knew the woman, folklore experts, and the parents of the missing girl. This all leads to a horrifying conclusion, where the truth of the woman and child, of the demon and the missing psychic girl, as well as the question of the curse, all intersect in a dangerous and deadly fashion. What happened to Kobayashi? This film tries to tell that story.

Noroi is a complicated and involved film, long in length and deep with exposition. The story itself winds around but never drifts and if you pay attention, you’ll follow along pretty easily. It’s tough sometimes, reading subtitles and looking at the screen as scary events unfold, but you get used to it. Besides, it’s way better than an awful dubbing, any day. What we have is a long look into a weird world, one filled with television personalities, actors, normal, everyday people, and demonic entities. Sometimes the maze gets too twisty and turny and the narrative gets lost, but director Koji Shiraishi always expertly steers the ship back onto course. A story this involved and complex deserves a second and third viewing, for sure. As the for the scares…There’s not a lot throughout the film, the concentration of them being mostly towards the end, when revelation after revelation comes, but there are several creepy moments as the story unfolds, including a couple of the now-stereotypical Japanese woman with her hair hanging down in her face. But those “typical” scares still work. It all leads to this horrifying, demoralizing night-vision shot that I won’t spoil here, but you’ll certainly know it when you see it. Part of the tradition of found-footage films, Noroi works better than most, with everything recorded being mostly talking heads, and investigations. There is very little running/jittery/shaking camera moments, although they are there, too.

All in all, Noroi is a fantastic ghost story and a very creepy and unsettling film. This one doesn’t get you with jump scares or wild action pieces. It gets you by drawing you into the mystery, by making you laugh and getting you to identify with Kobayashi as he takes his journey. About halfway through a creeping dread sets in, a sense of unease and disquiet. It just gets worse from there. This is a film that nibbles at the edges of your fears before it takes a giant bite at the end. This is not so much a rollercoaster ride, but rather a submersion into a haunted world. One of the finest films of the found-footage subgenre, and a fantastic Japanese ghost story, this one will stick with you for a long, long time. Almost like a curse.


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