So, I have been looking for this movie for years after I read a review of it somewhere on the internet, and finally managed to track it down. Marebito (1994) is a Japanese horror directed by Takashi Shimizu, who is famous for “Ju-On”, and its American remake, “The Grudge.”
I don’t know about you, but Asian horror flicks happen to be one of my favourite sub-genres and this movie definitely did not disappoint. Did it meet my expectations? That is difficult to say. I am not sure, because while I loved the movie, it wasn’t anything like I thought it would be.
Freelance journalist, Masuoka (played by Shin’ya Tsukamoto), is obsessed with the notion of fear and spends his time documenting it. He travels all around Tokyo trying to find people in distress in order to record their fear and review it for himself later. After filming a man in Tokyo subway station who commits suicide by stabbing himself in the eye, Masuoka reviews the footage, continuously wondering what caused the fear that drove this man to such an extreme.
After reviewing the footage countless times, Masuoka realises that the man was staring at a vent that leads to a passageway, which in turn leads down to massive caverns beneath Tokyo. Determined to find out what it is that this man saw, Masuoka heads down the passageway, armed with his ever present camera.
Deep beneath Tokyo, he finds what appears to be a pale young girl, her leg chained to the floor, in a small hollow in the caverns. He rescues the girl, and takes her into his apartment. He decides to name her “F”. I am not sure why he named her “F”, but one can surmise that he could have named her after the man who killed himself in the subway, named “Furoki”, or perhaps his deceased daughter “Fuyumi”. This is unclear to me, and could be an important detail with regards to the deeper plot of the movie but doesn’t seem to be that important.
He clothes F and goes about his normal business, keeping an eye over her with his cellphone that connects to cameras that he set up in his apartment. After observing her for 5 days. Masuoka finds that F is not a normal human. She had not eaten nor drank anything that he gave her and she only stayed awake for around 3 hours per day. Watching her grow weaker, he tries to force her to drink milk, which she spits out immediately. He notices that she has very sharp and pronounced canines. This leads him to believe that she feeds off something else other than human food…
This movie is very slow, and has little to no action. It isn’t for the kind of person who typically prefers a lot of action. It isn’t for the kind of person who likes stunning cinematography either. It is also not for the kind of person who likes scary movies, or movies that make you jump with fright. No, this is a movie for people who love a deep, twisted plot, that will make you think and think about what the real story behind everything is.
The plot of this movie leads you down further than the deep caverns below Tokyo. It certainly left me wondering what exactly I watched, and it left me wanting more. Considering that this movie was only shot in 8 days, I think Takashi Shimizu produced a masterpiece of sorts. At least, in the scope of the time it took him to shoot the movie, and what he achieved in that amount of time, I think it qualifies as a brilliant movie. It also won a Golden Raven award at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film. It most certainly deserved it, and more. The movie scored 6.1/10 on IMDB, but I give this movie 8/10, personally.
Watch the trailer for Marebito below:
Analysing the various elements of the movie, I have begun to wonder about the deeper plot of the movie. A woman, who Masuoka later kills in order to provide F with blood, confronts Masuoka about his wife and daughter, who, if I remember correctly, was Fuyomi. As I mentioned before, F might be named after either Furoki whom he later finds to be alive in the catacombs beneath the city that leads to the caverns, or F might be for Fuyomi. Perhaps even both. F might be a projection of his own thoughts after he decides to abandon his anti-depressants. She might represent his daughter, and his wife, who both died, as we find out when he goes to a small fishing village to abandon his life in Tokyo, and to abandon F, who has become his burden. It is clear that his interactions with Furoki are figments of his imagination, so perhaps everything else is some sort of representation of his fears, of his failure as a husband and father which he believes led to the death of his wife and daughter. He holds himself responsible, and so goes off in search of fear, and horrors around the city of Tokyo, in order to numb himself of his pain. When he abandons his medication, he develops this fantasy of going down into massive caverns, and finding this helpless creature, chained to the ground, naked and vulnerable. Perhaps this was to make him feel human again, or maybe it was to make him feel INhuman. Something different from the burden and pain he deals with normally.
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