3 February 2016

SHOCK LABYRINTH. 2009. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.


SHOCK LABYRINTH. 2009. DIRECTED BY TAKASHI SHIMIZU. STARRING MISAKO RENBUTSU. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This Japanese horror film was directed by the man who brought us game-changer THE GRUDGE, the film that spawned a million imitators. Well, I didn't count 'em exactly, but I'm guessing it's a high number, haha.

This film lacks the pure undiluted scariness of THE GRUDGE, the film that did for stairs what JAWS did for the water, but then THE GRUDGE would be a hard act to follow, wouldn't it? It's still worth a watch, though, this one, and there are a couple of nice little frights along the way.

We meet Rin, Ken, Miyu, Motoko and Yuki, a group of young Japanese people who've been Best Friends Forever. When they were kids, though, Miyu's older sister Yuki went missing on a visit to a haunted house attraction in an amusement park and was never seen again. Until now, that is, ten years later on a dark and rainy night...

That's right, a young woman claiming to be Yuki turns up at Rin's flat out of the blue. The gang aren't sure if she is whom she says she is, not even Miyu, Yuki's younger sister who's all grown up now. Miyu's and Yuki's mum is no help to them, as she appears to have gone insane from her beloved daughter's disappearance ten years earlier. You can hardly blame her, I suppose.

To cap it all, the girl who says she's Yuki is clearly unwell and needs medical assistance. The group of chums drive her to a hospital in the middle of the night. Oddly enough, it seems to be deserted. Not a single doctor, nurse or even patient to be seen anywhere.

When the pals go off down the long dark hospital corridors in search of someone to help them, they discover something even more disturbing. They're no longer even in a hospital. They're in the haunted house attraction they sneaked into ten years ago without the permission or knowledge of their parents or the amusement park personnel.

It's the place where they abandoned poor Yuki to her fate, a fate in which they all had a part to play. Who is it that's walking slowly up those seemingly never-ending winding stairs to meet them now? Could it be the friend they left in the lurch a decade ago? And, by any chance, does this person have revenge on their mind? Revenge for an old wrong that was never righted? We'll see...

I was never really spooked at all during this film, except by the waxworks which are as creepy as hell, and by the deserted hospital, which is something you'd never really want to see. If you ever find yourself in a completely deserted hospital, you'll know there's something badly wrong. Either that or you're in a Stephen King movie or something like that, something where bad stuff's gonna start happening to you shortly...

Some of the effects, like the bubbles that floated irritatingly about non-stop, are artsy and a bit annoying, but not scary at all. I'm afraid that's the one thing that they're not, which is a pity. I really wanted this film to scare the bejeesus out of me. Sadly, it wasn't to be. I liked the cute bunny rabbit backpack, but not when it floated. That was a bit weird.

I didn't really care too much for the characters either, whom I didn't find too likeable. I definitely couldn't understand why all the girlies were falling for Ken, either, but hey, there's no accounting for taste as we all well know. Some of the guys I've fancied in the past, Jesus Christ...! You'd think you were watching an episode of friggin' CRIMEWATCH.

This is by no means a bad film, don't get me wrong. I just think it's not particularly memorable and I may not watch it more than once. You guys should definitely watch it at least once, though, especially in view of the fact that its director is practically J-horror royalty. And it's a great concept, too. So give it a whirl and enjoy. Make sure you can find your way out of the labyrinth, though. I find that a trail of breadcrumbs is what usually works best for me...

      AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can contact her at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com





  

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