Extremely disappointing (WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!)
Percival C. Pollard | 06/11/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I found KIREI at Best Buy and the premise seemed intriguing. As a fan of J-Horror, I thought it might be interesting. Sadly, the film never lives up to its interesting premise or the themes it's seeking to explore. There are numerous plotholes in the film, the most obvious of which is where does Yoshie get all this money from? One of the principles of horror films is that we have to relate to the monster and in KIREI, and although at first we can relate to Yoshie's search for beauty, there's no foundation provided to give us a reason to sympathize with her psychosis. After Yoko sends Yoshie away, we never see much of her again until the end of the film and at that point, there is a role reversal between Yoko and Yoshie -- Yoshie has become gorgeous and vain, everything Yoko was.
There was a very climatic end scene involving Yoko, where, upon realizing that she made Yoshie the way she was due to her own greed and vanity and she apparently kills herself. This climatic scene is ruined because Yoko survives her apparent suicide and redeems herself. It's a happy ending that totally ruins the feel of the end of the film.
What's really tragic about this film is how well it could have been and it dances on the edge, but never crosses the line to going beyond mediocrity. Director Katsuya Matsumura creates a very creepy atmosphere and Okamoto and Kurozawa are both perfectly cast and pull off their roles with expertise. There are some great moments, including a truly horrifying scene where one of Yoko's nurses horribly burns her face because Yoshie replaced Yoko's facewash with a bottle of acid. Moments like this and the climatic ending are so great and poignant, but sadly, few and far between. It infuriates me, because I'm sitting there screaming at the TV, "why can't all the scenes be this good?!"
The underlying themes of the terror of beauty (which are, not surprising, very overt) and the idea that both Yoko and Yoshie are two sides of the same coin are very intriguing, but sadly never explored in the depth they should be. What this film ultimately suffers from is a lack of in-depth writing. With a script that was more solid, I'm convinced Matsumura could have a classic J-Horror on his hands, right up there with THE RING, JU-ON and AUDITION.
If you're a fan of J-Horror, KIREI could be an interesting movie, but I wouldn't recommend buying it. I say rent it if you feel it might be up your alley. If horror movies aren't your thing, I wouldn't recommend it at all. It's the type of film that pretty much only horror fans can appreciate."