Mysterium | State of Denial | 06/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It was my extreme luck to stumble upon this charming work of sticky horror only the other day. Although Japan is well known for it's clever, sometimes gut-wrenching horror, Toshiharu Ikeda stands out above the status quo, especially in his latest skein of scares, "Shadow of the Wraith".
This movie is made special in that it cleverly appeals to a young adult audience, yet it avoids using gore to do it (utilizing only three blood scenes throughout the entirety of the film). Rather, the younger crowd is attracted by the two male leads who (aside from being aesthetically pleasing) are also members of a famous pop duo from japan. However, for those unfamiliar with Doggy Bag, Ikeda has another draw for die-hard psychological horror fans.
Ikeda cleverly draws on inherent fears and discomforts that plague all genders from childhood into their adult years throughout the film's two parts. In the first, he cruelly preys upon the adolescent insecurities surrounding relationships and the failures that may or may not be associated with them. In the second part, Ikeda illustrates the childhood fear of dark, unknown spaces (closets), especially when they are found in a new home.
Overall, Ikeda cleverly frightens audiences by creating stories based on his viewers' deepest childhood fears and the perpetuating insecurities of adolescence.
This film is recommended for horror fans over the age of 16 due to violence in part one and themes of terror."
Did anyone get the license of that VEHICLE?!?!?
Shaun | Minneapolis, MN USA | 05/12/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Ikisudama is a pair of supernatural thrillers told in two seperate parts...go figure ay? Part One takes place in one of the many fine Japanese schools that Asian horror fans have come to recognize, and by now, may be able to recognize on sight. It begins as Ryoji and Mariko, a pair of high school 'lovers' get to know each other in a vacant gymnasium. When, during class, another student, Asaji, mistakes an act of kindness from Ryoji as as some sort of declaration of love and begins to follow/stalk Ryoji around school. Asaji's behavior quickly extends beyond the walls of their school. Ryoji becomes suspicious of Asaji's intentions and it doesn't take very much longer for Mariko (Ryoji's girlfriend) to join that club. But as they say, two's company and three's a crowd, but Asaji is not the type to take a hint.
The second story is a loose continuation of the first story involving Ryoji's brother and band-mate Kazuhiko, who moves into their older sister and husband's apartment. Someone else is also moving into Kazuhiko's building; a young girl named Naoko. They briefly meet outside the building as he is in the courtyard taking photos. She and Kazuhiko find themselves in the same school and the same class where she tells her class the story of her old neighborhood where a curse had consumed family after family on her street, and Kazuhiko warns her that there are similar event taking place in apartments that share the number 5. Naoko has moved into Apartment 505.
Shadow of the Wraith does happen in two loosely connected parts with two seperate titles; Part One: Shadow of the Wraith, and Part Two: The Hollow Stone. The director obviously favored a two-part system rather than integrating the stories into a single story. Why? Only he may know. The stories might've been more compelling as one. There's seemingly little or no time issues to prevent this other than they needed a separate story for the other "star". The juxtaposition of the two story-lines would have most assuredly held my interest better.
Ikisudama plays like the candy-coated thrillers of yesterday such as Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and so many other tame MTV-style suspense films. Style over substance. With a partial reprieve for The Hollow Stone 'episode', as it was the more actualized and convincing of the two. Part One plays more like a Twilight Zone episode, but not a classic Rod Serling episode; more like one of the new Forest Whittaker hosted, remade, regurgitated episodes with today's "stars". Or more precisely, like Fatal Attraction. I think I rolled my eyes so many times that it must've looked as if I just hopped off of The Riddler's Revenge at Six Flags! Low budget special effects, manufactured and transparent suspense aside, the final nail in the coffin for Part 1 was the cheesy pop song that robbed the music from 'I Only Want To Be With You' as we get a look at the JPop any-band Marshall Law, which in real life is an actual brother-brother duo known as Doggy Bag. Who by the way, get top billing in the end credits and individual, widely spaced mentions. Something their agent(s) probably insisted on.
This movie was clearly a vehicle for the duo. There's very little positive about Ikisudama other than one short, tense scene in Part One and the premise in Part Two is interesting but not fulfilling. Horror fans will want to see it just to see it, but they shouldn't expect anything new or exciting. Or maybe just pass on it all together.