Search - Kaidan on DVD

Actors: Kumiko Aso, Takaaki Enoki, Reona Hirota, Teisui Ichiryűsai, Mao Inoue
Director: Hideo Nakata
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror
UR     2009     1hr 55min

Genre: Foreign Video - Japanese Rating: UN Release Date: 30-JUN-2009 Media Type: DVD


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Movie Details

Actors: Kumiko Aso, Takaaki Enoki, Reona Hirota, Teisui Ichiryűsai, Mao Inoue
Director: Hideo Nakata
Creators: Jun'ichirô Hayashi, Junichi Sakomoto, Takashige Ichise, Enchô San'yűtei, Satoko Okudera
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror
Studio: Lions Gate
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/30/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 55min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

A Traditional Japanese Romance-HORROR Film About Obsession a
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 05/07/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Certain familiar elements have plagued Japanese-horror the past few years, formulaic approaches, some cheap scares, and the usual haunting music. KAIDAN-Ghost Story (2007) is however a breath of fresh air in the genre of J-horror; the film is a homage to classic romantic ghost stories. The film is directed by Hideo Nakata, the same director responsible for "Ringu" and "Dark Water". Forget cursed objects, haunted technology and long-haired ghosts, the film while not as engaging as Kobayashi's 1960`s classic "Kwaidan" is a welcome change for those viewers very familiar with modern J-horror such as "Ju-On", "Ringu" and "Kairo". Lionsgate entertainment has invested in this Japanese horror film and thankfully they are releasing the region-1 release in June.

250 years ago, Soetsu, a kindly moneylender is murdered by a samurai named Fukami and his lifeless body disposed of in the Kasanegafuchi (Kasane's plunge), the pool of water that snakes around and legend has it that those who sink in the water will never surface again. Some 25 years later, in a chance encounter; Fukami's son, Shinkichi (Kikunosuke Onoe) meets a wealthy and beauteous if older woman named Oshiga (Hitomi Kuroki) who is also the daughter of Soetsu. Shinkichi becomes smitten by Oshiga and she returns his feelings. The two begin to live together but strange things begin to occur. Then one day, after a lover's quarrel, Oshiga had fallen ill and due to the stress of taking care of his loved one, Shinkichi develops an attraction to a comely young woman named Oshisa. On the night of Oshiga's demise, she leaves a note for Shinkichi " If you ever re-marry, I will haunt your new wife to the grave..."
Shinkichi has doomed any woman who dares to fall in love with him.

KAIDAN is a well constructed ghost story with some "borrowed" elements from Kwaidan's "Woman of the Snow" and "Black Hair". The film is about slow-build ups and restrained suspense; and to be honest is quite successful in what it set out to do. The thing I liked about the film is that it doesn't rely on cheap scares and the film's script is more a period piece that avoids the usual formulas set with haunted technological devices or objects, and while there is a ghost in this film, the reasons behind the haunting is quite credible. No, if you are looking for images on a mirror, or shadowy figures floating around, then you came to the wrong film. While it does have scenes with minor use of CGI and extreme spooky close-ups, the film feels like an old-fashioned horror film reminiscent of "Kwaidan" and "Onibaba". How creepy can a staring baby be? Very much so.

The film is structured as a character-driven melodrama with elements of karma and existential fatalism. Shinkichi is viewed as an attractive young man, no wonder so many beauteous women become smitten by him. In his younger days, he also easily becomes attracted to women and the film delves into the ironic fact that Shinkichi should reconsider remarrying as he undoubtedly would bring ruin to any woman who would love him. The film presents the terror of actually falling in love again and all the film's twists and turns are effective enough to keep me interested. It creates fear and terror in its systematic approach. We get to explore some bits of Japanese folklore and one very effective device this film has is the feeling of dread--you will definitely feel that the film will only get worst before if it EVER does get better; and that feeling is quite a delight if you ask me.

There is also an abundance of cuts in the film that symbolizes ruination. The old adage; "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" would come to mind and will serve as the film's most effective selling point. While I was pleasantly surprised with its old-fashioned horror elements, the film is not perfect, it did have its share of flaws. Some ideas were presented but weren't given closure as with Shinkichi and Orui's baby. Osono, Oshiga's sister, is also underdeveloped; you see her in the first act and her "chance" second meeting with Shinkichi felt a little too convenient. Shinkichi's father-in-law's mistress, Oshizu seemed like a simple plot device to get the film to its intriguing last act.

Regardless of its faults, "KAIDAN" is a very effective piece of Japanese horror. It is an old-school type of horror film that will make you absorb its experience and the more familiar you are with ritualistic details from Japan, the better you'll like it. The film focuses all its energy and momentum in its last 40 minutes and even displays some bloody samurai hacking and slashing. "Kaidan" is very abundant in context, and nicely presents the balance between redemption, obsession and destruction. The film is evenly paced, it outlasts most Asian Horror films and it never overstays its welcome.


The Kasane ga Fuchi legend
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 09/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"At the very start, it is best to advise that "Kaidan" is not a typical entry in the genre that has become known as J-Horror. The expectation will be there, as director Nakata Hideo (Ring, Death Note 3: L, Change the World) is someone whose name has become almost synonymous with the genre. He is the one who took Japan's long tradition of ghostly storytelling and brought it to the world, introducing Westerners for the first time to creatures like yurei and onryo. However, after a sojourn in the Hollywood system filming the English-language Ring Two, Nakata returned to his native country and directed a beautiful tribute to the horror legends that were the foundation of his success.

"Kaidan" is a film with an impressive pedigree. Written originally in 1825 by legendary storyteller Sanyutei Encho, the "Kaidan Kasane ga Fuchi" story has been a staple of Japanese horror in various media and incarnations. It was first filmed in 1926 by equally-legendary filmmaker Mizoguchi Kenji (Ugetsu), and then several times more over the years including a 1957 version by Japan's first genre-horror director Nakagawa Nobuo. Nakata's version "Kaidan" is roughly the sixth time the Kasane ga Fuchi story has appeared on film.

While others have played with the story a bit, Nakata does a fairly direct translation of Encho's original version. In a bit of inspired genius, Nakata even has Living National Treasure Ichiryusai Teisui perform the opening monologue, a fitting homage to the stories beginning as a piece of rakugo storytelling. From there, we are treated to a classic story of inherited karma, of the sins of the father passing on to the son and daughter, of a dark swamp that hides many secrets and just some good old fashioned ghostly revenge. Encho's stories, told on the cusp of the Meiji era when Japanese audiences first encountered stories like "Romeo and Juliet," have always been tinged with a certain romantic sadness. His mix of ghostly elements with sorrowful love stories define Encho's style, and Nakata skillfully wrings every heart-wrenching and heart-stopping moment from the Kasane ga Fuchi story.

Along with realizing Encho's story, Nakata has also paid and obvious homage to director Kobayashi Masaki (Kwaidan, Samurai Rebellion) both with certain visual elements and the overall pacing. Kobayashi's films have always seemed like a keg of dynamite with a long, long fuse, where the drama slowly and patiently builds over the film's beginning and middle leading up to a massive explosive ending.

History and homages alone do not make a good film, however, and fortunately Nakata has also put a strong cast into his film. The lead role, Shinkichi, is played by famed kabuki actor Onoe Kikunosuke V, whose striking face was last seen in the 2006 film "The Inugami Clan." As an onnagata, one who typically plays women's roles in the all-male kabuki theater, Onoe carries himself with a certain sensitivity that helps sell the character of the cursed Shinkichi, doomed to attract women and then witness their deaths. Veteran actress Kuroki Hitomi (From Nakata film Dark Water) plays Oshiga, Shinkichi's older lover and the woman whose curse he bears. Inoue Mao, a popular junior idol and star of the live-action "Boys over Flowers" series and Kitaro movie, is beautiful and captivating as the young Ohisa who lures Shinkichi away. Seto Asuka (Death Note) drips sex appeal in her villain's role as the prostitute Oshizu. And somehow, Nakata managed to track down one of the scariest babies I have ever seen.

It is hard for me to find flaws with "Kaidan" because this is exactly what I personally love in a film. I devour the old Edo and Meiji period Japanese strange stories, I love haunting ghost stories that don't rely on cheap shocks and jumps but instead are atmospheric and "spooky" rather than scary. If I had to find fault, I would say that Nakata relies too much on CG effects in two scenes in particular, and they are a little jarring. I am a fan of CG used effectively in ghost stories, such as in the The Others, but I find that all that carefully built atmosphere and tension can be ruined by a badly placed CG snake wriggling around. Some of the characters are not as developed as well as they could be, and some plot lines seem to frizzle out rather than be resolved, but I don't mind that too much. The DVD itself is disappointing. This is a bare-boned presentation that should have supported a short documentary on the Kasane ga Fuchi story and its origins and evolution.

It would probably be better to think of "Kaidan" as a Gothic film rather than a Horror story. That better suits this kind of romance-tinged ghost story that is a class of Japanese storytelling. Nakata Hideo has filmed the story beautifully, and I personally would love to see more films made in this vein.