Noroi: The Curse (2005)

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Noroi: The Curse is a very interesting Japanese Supernatural Horror film Directed by the infamous Koji Shiraishi, Director of schlock horror movies such as Grotesque, A Slit Mouthed Woman, Teketeke and Sadako Vs Kayako. Noroi: The Curse was one of his earlier efforts in Horror cinema, and also, one of his most well known. To begin with, Noroi: The Curse is one of the very few found-footage style Horror films to come from Japan, in fact the majority of found-footage Japanese films come from Koji Shiraishi himself. The story of Noroi: The Curse is about a documentary film-maker called Masafumi Kobayashi and his cameraman, Miyajima, as they investigate a supposed haunting, before being pulled into a frightening investigation about Psychic Phenomena, Ancient Japanese Rituals and Demonic Possessions.

However, what makes Noroi: The Curse so interesting is they way that the film is presented. Unlike many western found-footage films which present a dubiously ‘unedited’ version of amateur footage like a home movie (e.g. The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity, Rec, Grave Encounters etc), Noroi: The Curse is presented like a TV special with footage from Kobayashi and numerous other TV programs as well that all centre around similar themes and plot-threads. Personally, I feel like Noroi: The Curse utilized this innovative style of found-footage cinema incredibly well. The whole film has this air of believably. From Kobayashi’s serious footage to the crazy Japanese TV variety show footage, Noroi: The Curse is very realistic and natural, which is mainly due to a fantastic pacing which always allowed the mystery to sink in before presenting the viewer with absolutely horrific imagery (imagery which appears very sparingly throughout the film). Thus, I found it very easy to be sucked in by Noroi: The Curse and the story it was trying to tell, I thought that the film was very effective at telling it’s story through very realistic means.

One aspect that really stood out to me about Noroi: The Curse is the film’s fantastic acting. In fact, I would go as far to say that the acting in Noroi: The Curse is one of the film’s greatest attributes. The film is full of quirky, yet realistically believable characters, and each actor gives a very believable performance to go alongside the bizarre characterizations. In my opinion, every actor is realistically believable in the film’s world of paranoia and demonic entities. However, the stand out performances in Noroi: The Curse come from Marika Matsumoto (who played herself) and Satoru Jitsunashi (Mitsuo Hori) who steal the show in every scene they’re included in. Their amazing charisma and amazing performances as possessed psychics haunted by demonic forces are both absolutely mesmerizing to witness. For example, there’s a scene near the end of the film that’s very quiet, but Marika’s performance makes it unbearably tense, even though she’s just sat in one place and not saying anything, it’s an absolute treat to see.

But the greatest, most innovative thing about Noroi: The Curse is the film’s fairly complicated story. Most Asian Extreme Cinema films are very simple in terms of story, whether it be a ghost story or a violent splatter movie. Noroi: The Curse, on the other hand, has quite a grandiose plot with many interwoven plot-threads and layers of subtext. The film starts off quite averagely, but soon proceeds to expand and evolve over the course of the film’s 115 minute running time (which is also quite long for an Asian Extreme Cinema film). That being said, the story of Noroi: The Curse is very coherent because the film interlinks so many different plot-threads, thus making it quite easy to follow, despite the grand scale. Because of the detailed way that the story was written, the film makes perfect sense, everything is explained and divulged upon, and, in the end, the film follows a story-line that’s very easy to follow. This is something that’s incredibly difficult to do when you have such a grandiose plot as films like The Sect failed in this aspect.

In conclusion, I thought Noroi: The Curse was a fantastic movie. It’s simultaneously one of the greatest ghost movies to come from Japan and one of the greatest found-footage movies overall. It’s a fine example of quiet tension, fantastic editing (thanks to Nobuyuki Takahashi, editor of Ringu), realistic pacing, and fantastic performances from everyone involved. It’s just a shame that it’s not as well known or as well talked about as it should be as it’s a film that’s generally kept to underground circuits with no English or American release, which is a real shame. However, if a viewer manages to get their hands on a copy of Noroi: The Curse, then I definitely recommend watching the movie in it’s entirety as it’s one of the better films to come out of Japan, and I believe that it deserves to be hailed as a Japanese Horror classic.

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