Kaidan (2007)
By: Mr Intolerance on October 15, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Eastern Eye (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). Japanese DD 5.1, Japanese DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 115 minutes
The Movie
Director: Hideo Nakata
Starring: Kikonsuke Onoe, Hitomi Kuroki, Mao Inoue, Tae Kimura, Asaka Seto
Screenplay: Satako Okudera
Country: Japan
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
From the maker of Ringu comes this period piece ghost story, hence the name (kwaidan being a Japanese term for ghost story) – the change in the title possibly being due to wanting to avoid confusion with the 1960s US-Japan ghost story co-production film of the same name, and point out it's not a re-make, despite the many references I found to this earlier film in it.

So we have Soetsu, who is an acupuncturist who rather stupidly makes a loan to an alcoholic samurai, Fukami, and therefore doesn't get repaid. When he does try to get paid, things don't go so terribly well. Fukami hacks him down, Soetsu curses his name and so we're up to speed, being told this story by a fella with a bad haircut. The sets and so forth actually recall Kwaidan, with their very artificial look, but I guess that's on purpose. When the story itself begins, things are much more realistic.

Until the voice-overs start, and we find out that Fukami's son, Shinkichi is trying, inadvertantly, to hook up with Soetsu's daughter Oshiga. Destiny works well in ancient texts, but not in this day and age – stretching the imagination just a little too far. Mind you, considering when it's meant to be set, I guess I shouldn't be complaining – it'd certainly make sense in that context. Also, if you've seen Kwaidan, this could indeed be seen as a bit of an homage, having the same lyrical, ethereal, ghost-like beauty. Pre-destined fate meets up with voice-over work and so supernatural entertainment ensues.

So Shinkichi ends up hooking up with Oshiga, and you just know this ain't gonna work out well. Young fella like him, old woman like that… She becomes rapidly becomes obsessive about Shinkichi, which means that she must be blind to his appalling haircut. The original Kwaidan was an anthology story, with about three or four, maybe five different parts (sorry, can't remember, but I'm pretty sure it was 4); this should have been about the same. This is a half hour's worth of story that simply drags on too long. I was punching myself in the face to maintain interest. I went for a walk at one point because I was so angry at how bored I was getting, had a burrito, quite a good one – pork – and it was rather tasty, came back and tried to keep watching this but within five minutes I was ready to rip out my own jugular again. Look, I like atmosphere in horror films, frankly, I'll take that over gore any day, but this just didn't do it. The pay off for atmosphere is action of some kind, but nope, nothing of that kind here.

Oshiga's sister tries to get our homegirl to leave Shinkichi because she feels uneasy about the whole thing, and when the strings of your koto break when talking about your boyfriend, it's time to listen. Oshiga doesn't, and when Shinkichi tries to leave, tries desperately for him to stay. In the resulting struggle, he cuts open her eyelid, and sort of feels obligated to stay, which is kind of understandable. The cut becomes infected, and Oshiga becomes delirious, to put it very mildly, asking Shinkichi to bite her.

Shinkichi meets up with one of Oshiga's koto-learning charges, the rather scrumptious Ohisa, along the way at the town's fireworks night, and you just know this whole enchilada is going to turn into a jealousy-hate-filled vengeance-fest. But…umm…where's the horror? I mean the infection on her eye is pretty fucking gross, but after Ringu and Dark Water, I was expecting supernatural horror to the nth degree. If it was going to be melodrama, then fine, but label it as such; don't call it horror.

When the horror does turn up, it's very late in the piece, and doesn't quite fill the gap you've been waiting for – this film was made 30 years too late, maybe 40 years too late. The ghost story element is kinda cool, but doesn't have the weigh, or the eerienesst of Nakata's other films. It's like a J-horror flick from the 60s, and just doesn't have the impact it should.

Now when you get given the advice: "If you remarry, I will haunt your new wife to the grave."  You really think you'd listen. Frankly – I'd be scared. Apparently not. Apparently you go straight out and find the first tart around. Well, not exactly, but Ohisa is not going to be having a very good howdy-doody day, let me tell you. Shinkichi really isn't thinking things through…

Is the ghost of Oshiga following Shinkichi and Ohisa? Well, frankly I hope so, because otherwise this movie is the most boring piece of shit since I clocked an eye to since the original Kwaidan, which wasn't a great deal of fun, to put it very mildly. This is a deeply dull film, and I was thinking of going to get another burrito before its ending. You probably will, too.
The 16:9 enhanced 1.78:1 transfer is quite good. Clear and colourful - nothing ti complain about here.
Japanese 5.1 and 2.0 audio options are provided. Both are a clear and easy on the ears, though naturally the 5.1 tracks offers a slighty richer audio experience.
Extra Features
Well, there's a making of featurette, which isn't much to speak of, trailers and a still gallery.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
What? You expect a higher rating? No dice. Nakata might have directed Ringu, but it doesn't mean he walks on water. This was a dull, dull, film. I have watched paint dry to better effect. The scares arrived too late and without enough oomph to really satisfy the horror fan inside of me. This just didn't deliver on any level. A crap piece of work, and there isn't a jury in the world who would convict me for saying so.

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