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My Japanese Horror (Part 1)

Anybody out there fancies a good (over)dosage of Horror, particularly Japanese Horror? The long trail was first set ablaze with the humble beginnings of the Japanese wave and its gradual escalation in the nineties. Suddenly (but in a good way though) there were lots and lots of interesting, innovative, jaw-dropping, [insert your favourite adjectives here] imports from the Land of the Rising Sun. Naturally, I was immediately won over by many things. Back then, it was a season after another of television drama, followed by music programmes featuring many popular idols and such. Then, anime and movies came along. The best part about all of them? I got to appreciate them in their original Japanese language. Honestly, just that alone was more than enough to keep every bit of my attention span glued to those treasures. Anyway, there is so much that I could share about my interests. However, for this article I would love to focus on movies, in particular Japanese horror movies as mentioned at the start of the post. Don't worry, I assure anybody that my take on this genre isn't limited to just Sadako and trails of unbelievably long hair. Oh, may I just add that if anybody has a rather weak disposition, kindly refrain from dwelling on the following movies. While I shall attempt my best to keep images and explanations PG13, (some of) the movies are apparently not. Now, shall we proceed? 

Claustrophobia is quite the challenge in a lot of horror movies. In a relatively fast-paced storytelling, the ability to contain (and sustain) different elements within a largely sole entity is often put to test. While I can't affirm that this movie would make an ideal representative of claustrophobic horror, I can say that everything about it still makes me cringe a little and want to watch time after time. The title in Japanese is 'Honogurai mizu no soko kara', but internationally it is otherwise known as Dark Water. Starring Kuroki Hitomi (an actress who still looks really youthful despite being 54 this year), who played a struggling mother named Yoshimi in the midst of a bitter divorce. She and her five year-old daughter Ikuko were on the hunt for a suitable apartment where they could begin their lives anew. Well, they finally found one. I've got to say that whoever the location scout was had done a splendid job at fishing out that apartment building. The place sure looked menacing, and even more so with all that rain and gloom. Then, the fun (?) stuff began with an equally menacing patch of water stain from the ceiling.

I used to wonder just how much did the production team spend on all that water alone, since the flooding, leaking, gushing and pouring seemed enough for the sea or something. The supernatural aspects were rather refreshing, although one could still figure out certain things like a sudden clump of hair and a disturbingly repetitive appearance of an evil-looking object. Well, Ikuko had really loved that bag. Not a bad way to freak out the mother, eh? Top that with a history of mental illness, water taps that had lives of their own, a mistaken identity which was intentionally caused by a shape-shifting evil spirit, and generally more water. The end result was undoubtedly tragic. I mean, poor Ikuko was nearly smothered by all that icky water gushing out from the elevator. Nobody knew what really happened after that, for the next scene merely brought the audience forward to a teenage Ikuko still harbouring uncertainties and a wish to see her mother. I love how several things have been left to the viewer's own interpretation. In my opinion, the movie didn't end shabbily yet it could be way better. I suppose that was what the director had wanted the audience to take away.  

If you ask me, I believe that Ikuko's mother didn't actually die trying to save her. Yeah, the evil girl spirit did claw her way onto Yoshimi during the final elevator scene. However, I would like to think that Yoshimi was merely being trapped inside the apartment eternally by that spirit. Even if she were a ghost, she would have been too well-groomed (?) to pass off as one. The so-called beautiful ghosts in a lot of horror movies were either feeding energy and blood off humans or hiding behind painted skins. Well, maybe Kuroki Hitomi had been an exception.

Do keep a lookout for the second part of My Japanese Horror. If anybody would like to share their favourite horror movies, feel free to discuss!

Eccentrically Yours.

Written by J.Fluffysheep ♪

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