‘Building. N’: Paranormal fears become completely silly
J’s Best-Known Horror Movies Abroad Tend to Update Traditional Movies caidan (Japanese ghost story) tropes in present tense. Thus, the vengeful female ghosts of yesteryear end up haunting a VHS tape (“The Ring”, 1998), a suburban home (“Ju-on: The Grudge”, 2002) or a cell phone (“One Missed Call” , 2003).
But scary Japanese films are also inspired by so-called true stories of horrific events. The latest is “Bldg. N,” a shocker based on paranormal incidents that allegedly took place in an apartment building in Gifu Prefecture in 2000. Scripted and directed by genre veteran Yosuke Goto, the film features clanking silverware, flickering television screens and other poltergeist activity that the media reported in grim detail at the time.
” Building. N” also covers territory previously explored by “Midsommar,” Ari Aster’s 2019 hit about a group of American graduate students who fall into the clutches of a pagan cult in Sweden. But while Aster’s film had certain historical and cultural truths, Goto’s horror film resembles the logicless ghost stories children tell around campfires, with shocks that are more ridiculous than scary.
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The director, however, has a perfect lead with Minori Hagiwara, who made her breakthrough as the fiery main character in Ryutaro Ninomiya’s “Midori on the Brink” in 2020. In “Building. N”, she once again impresses with her fierce-eyed intensity in a performance full of commitment.However, even Hagiwara can’t sell the film’s most absurd bits.
The film centers on Shiori (Hagiwara), a college student suffering from thanatophobia – an extreme fear of death – which not only disturbs her sleep but also makes her question the meaning of her own existence. How can you live fully when you are all too aware of your impending demise?
Nonetheless, she joins two classmates, her ex-boyfriend Keita (Yuki Kura) and current girlfriend Maho (Kasumi Yamaya), on an expedition to film an abandoned campaign. Danchi (public housing complex) where frightening events have been reported.
Shortly after entering the grounds, they are approached by a menacing-looking guard who, upon hearing Shiori’s lie about finding a place to live, becomes friendly and escorts them to an empty apartment. decaying.
He also introduces them to the oddly happy residents, who invite the trio to stay for a welcome party. There they meet Kanako (Mariko Tsutsui), a strange-looking and insinuating woman who says the danchi is crawling with ghosts. “We live with them,” she told Shiori, smiling. “We have to understand them.” At the signal, the walls begin to vibrate, as if the spectral inhabitants are announcing their presence. Everyone flees the village hall and one of the trio’s new acquaintances jumps over a rail to his death.
Clearly, it’s time for the protagonists to hit the road, but they decide to stay for the night. Shiori, a skeptic who believes supernatural phenomena to be fake, wants to investigate further, with the camera rolling.
From this point on, the film veers into the absurd, as it never convincingly answers the question of why, with such close security, Shiori and the others linger over the danchi, especially after he becomes apparent that Kanako is the leader of a strange death cult. . ” Building. N” provides a great example of what critic Roger Ebert called “dumb plot” – that is, a plot sustained only by the fact that the key characters are idiots.
Considering the scene in which little Shiori subdues a man armed with a knife twice her size, she’s also incredibly brave. But “unbelievable” in the sense of “impossible to believe”.
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