Eat Your "Vegetables" First... THEN You Can Have Your "Desse
Ace-of-Stars | Honolulu, Hawaii | 11/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
Director Horie Kei seems to have taken to heart and benefited from the ubiquitous axiom, "If at first you don't succeed, Try again!"
The Geneon DVD release of "The Locker" is in actuality a "double-feature" of the J-Horror movies "Shibuya Kaidan" ("Shibuya Ghost Story") and its sequel, "Shibuya Kaidan 2."
Like most Asian Horror films to date, a lot is familiar and may leave some viewers a bit more jaded about the over-mined 'vengeful spirit' genre than they already are. But Kei & company still manage to offer up a few newish twists and ideas of their own. For starters, the tragic event which drives the plot this movie is said to have been inspired by an actual true case. Another relatively unique idea was to show a haunting spirit who "age progresses" (though this latter idea does not set very well with many viewers of these two films).
Of course, "long hair" comes into play, as could be expected from this genre, but many viewers have difficulty in accepting the amount and thickness of the ghost-girl's hair as being believable, but it becomes convincing when one keeps in mind that we're dealing with a ghost that has "age-progressed" from infancy and has never known basic things we normally take for granted, such as hygiene, haircuts, etc.
As intriguing as the story & concept of "Shibuya Kaidan" is, there's really not much there in the movie itself. With the exception of a few memorable instances, the interactions of the ghost-girl, Sachiko, with her victims are less than convincing or disturbing -- in some cases they're downright silly. And so "Shibuya Kaidan," as a stand-alone movie, though not entirely dull, is almost completely 'forgettable.'
But something or somebody later takes a turn somewhere, and fortunately, in his second attempt, Horie Kei figures out not only how to move the story along promisingly but also how to scare his audiences.
Being a "direct continuation" of the established storyline (a rarity for 'A-Horror' sequels), "Shibuya Kaidan 2" picks up directly from the point where its predecessor left off, retaining several of the same key characters as they now go about on their own quests in an attempt to fit all the necessary pieces together to unravel and ultimately understand the origin of the curse -- and hopefully to figure out a way to break it.
A coin locker in Shibuya City is the flashpoint where the curse originates, where anyone accessing it becomes marked by Sachiko's curse (much like the Saeki house in Shimizu Takashi's "JUON"). But there's a curious twist in that a couple of urban legends have sprung up around this public locker, one which recounts the tragedy involving Sachiko, the other suggesting that the spirit within its confines is 'beneficent' in nature and will grant the lovelorn luck & success in their relationships.
Of course, the individual legends sometimes get fused as well as confused, at times resulting in some visitors being aware of not only the "good fortune" angle of the locker legend, but also of its sad history -- including its curse. Yet, ever the optimists, most of those who are aware of its sinister side (whether they believe in the spooky story or not) still utilize the locker in hopes of receiving blessings to better their love lives. I think this paradox of behavior is part of what makes this story both refreshingly unique yet at the same time difficult to relate to. Because we are so used to characters in stories being completely ignorant and clueless about the true nature of a 'haunted house' or similar locale or object, it seems to fly in the face of convention that there would actually be those who'd "willingly" risk becoming the targets of a curse after having been made aware of such a possibility.
Had it only been the first of these movies released on DVD, I would have found it terribly difficult to recommend "Shibuya Kaidan," and based on how I received that movie I'd have definitely bypassed its sequel. But since Geneon included both movies on a single disc, I wholeheartedly recommend this DVD. The first part is a bit difficult to get through (especially with all of the camera movements, weird angles and 'handheld' stuff to distract you), but let it tell its establishing story, since your patience will be nicely rewarded in the sequel.
[["3-stars" for the 'establishing' story; "4-stars" for the sequel; "4-stars" overall]]"
Not Scary or Original but still Entertaining
B. Ackley | Douglasville, GA | 09/20/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Stateside there has been a wave of interest in Japanese horror films. Starting with the American re-make "ring" and continued with the film "the Grudge". Both films were groundbreaking when they were released much like "friday the 13th" and "halloween" both gave rise to the "slasher" genre in the early 1980s. "the Locker" is a Japanese film which borrows heavily from the popular Japanese films "ringu" and "Ju-ON" to create 2 films that arent very scary but are incredibly fun to watch.
The locker is based on the Japanese urban legend that somewhere in Shibuya (an area of Tokyo popular with teens and college kids) there is a coin locker that will give you good luck if you use it and confess your true love. This idea has been twisted and 6 college kids happen to learn the secrets and consequences of Locker 0009.
The story is predictable and anyone who has seen either Ringu or Ju-On wouldnt be creeped out by the imagery or the the story. Having said that iot was fun just to watch the scenery of Tokyo and listening to the Japanese students cut-up.
The sequal "Locker 2" is also included on this disc and is pretty much a rehash of the original film with new people. Both films are campy but at 72 minutes each a small investment in killing time.
Hackneyed, but very effective...and a little funny!
Shaun | Minneapolis, MN USA | 05/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
Kei Horie's Shibuya Kaidan, a.k.a. The Locker is decidedly a new run with the flavors of a few old favorites of Asian Horror; built around the premise of a small bank of public pay lockers in Shibuya District, which hold a horrific secret. Just south of famed Harijuku, Shibuya is a perfect locale for our clique of callow friend's that return from a weekend camping trip and visit that bank of lockers. The girls in the group routinely store books and clothing in them, as it's proximity to home and campus make for lighter travel between the two points.
While in the country, the six friends (3 ladies, 3 gents) consume a beer or two and attempt to tell ghost stories, which fall completely flat and digress into roaring laughter . It's quite the light-hearted night with friends. (And I laughed also because I could identify; I think we all can.) Things get going when one of the group, Keitarou (Yuge Tomohisa), takes the opportunity to scare the hell out of the group with a stone infants head he finds when our protagonist, Reika (Mizukawa Asami; a now grown-up Ikuko previously in Dark Water), had just heard faint crying near the adjacent lake. But she was the only one. Reika pleads with the group to listen for the cries, and as they concentrate, Keitarou produces the stone head which sends the group into screams. Even Keitarou couldn't believe his fortune on this prank. The next morning, on the return trip, another of the group suddenly hears those same faint cries, and upon their return (and subsequent visit to Shibuya), he and another girl disappear. A week later, they're found... but it's not pretty. Soon, the haunting escalates and the entire group faces a disturbing, and sometimes wacky, fate. But those wacky moments pass fairly quickly. Reason being, the characters themselves don't seem to be affected by them.
After two more of the group are killed or missing, the remaining trio of friend's make the association between the deaths, the locker in Shibuya and a certain sacred site that one or more of them had unknowingly desecrated. Just as they prepare an attempt to satisfy the spirit's wrath, their friend is found slumped over in a playground by a very young boy and she's taken to a hospital to recover. The police and doctors monitor her for any signs of improvement, so as to collect information about how and why she came to rest, comatose, in a city park. This is where it gets quite a bit better and makes up ground from the previous half, in terms of genuine scares. A major factor is the spine-cringing sound effects and to maybe an equal extent, a nice bit of editing near the end. The direction as a whole takes a huge step up here also. The camerawork goes back & forth between Blair Witch -esque handycam to full-on classic Asian Horror style, but at all the right moments. And by this point, it settles into a nice groove. The remaining members of the group face their own fates. One of the group follows the trail back to the Shibuya Locker.
The things that work for this movie is the B-movie feel, the way it doesn't pound us over the head with intensity (it's really not that type of film), and the genuine urban-folklore angle. Similar to a famed, particular bathroom stall haunted by a young woman, this lore has enough weight to carry the movie. Those, and a couple wicked-nice scares and one pretty freaky scene midway through. What worked against it? Several aspects. In particular, a laundry list of familiar elements that quite a few other Asian Horror classics gave birth to and often suffering from being wholly unoriginal altogether. I'm also pretty sure the producers choice to go direct-to-video was partly due to the 'imitation factor'. In the end though, I found it entirely entertaining as a whole. The Locker is a film that has to be appreciated as a "sum of it's parts" type movie. As Herman Yau's Dating Death (2004) has to be. It has a little of everything, and as a viewer, I was kept on my toes and never bored and it's put together well. I couldn't ask for much more. I'll also relay my disappointed at the distribution company's choice for it's original release DVD cover. I think it spoils the movie a little. The Region 1 cover makes amends though. So finally, my score is probably one or two points higher than it should be, but there it is. Have fun with this movie, and you'll be fine.
My thoughts on the locker 1+2
Melzack | 01/17/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"If you like asian horror movies, then this is definitely watchable. It is entertaining if you like that sort of stuff. The plot is pretty typical. This one involved a locker where if you put a love letter in it to someone then you will experience true love or something like that. Turns out the locker is cursed by a vengeful dead girl and anyone who gets involved with it dies. Similar to the story of the grudge but instead of a house it is a locker. This movie is watered down compared to a lot of the other stuff i've seen. If you want a really deep plot and a real sense of creepiness or unease then this is not the movie for you. I suggest you check out the one missed call movies, ab-normal beauty, silk, witch board (Bunshinsaba), ringu, ju-on, the eye, or reincarnation."