Movie Reviews – Cult

In order to develop our critical thinking and ability to interpret artistic works we were set the task of watching then reviewing two movies from the East Asian Film Festival that has become an annual feature at Coventry University. In addition to valuable analytical practice this also presented the opportunity to embrace another cultural medium and grow our global world perspectives.

Cult (2013)

Cast: Yu Abiru, Mari Iriki, Mayuko Iwasa, Ryosuke Miura, Natsuki Okamoto, Sayuri Oyamada.

Director: Koji Shiraishi

Review

Koji Shiraishi, already a prolific director with over 14 horror movies (IMDb  2013) in his directorial collection brings us his latest instalment that follows the fate of 3 popular Japanese television presenters. Shiraishi, already considered to be in the top 11 Japanese directors of all time (IMDb 2011) rose to prominence with his 2009 movie ‘Grotesque’, a movie that was quickly banned by the BBFC for its ‘horrific and savage imagery’ (East Winds Film Festival 2013).

Three TV teen idols (Yu Abiru, Mari Iriki, Mayuko Iwasa) that play themselves are set the daunting task of investigating a haunted house whose only residents are a mother and daughter that have been plagued by strange events, this not a task the three TV stars relish but in their pursuit for super stardom they can not afford to turn down any work. Presented to us in a ‘Blair Witch’ meets ‘The Ring’ style atmosphere, I steeled myself for an evening of gory terror. The movie begins well and sets the scene inside the house that reveals that something sinister is afoot and with the introduction to the 3 main characters it suggests they would be woefully incapable of dealing with a trick or treat let alone malevolent forces from beyond the grave.

Our three protagonists are met at the house by a spiritual man who informs them that he is there to perform an exorcism, queue the rhythmic chanting and house shaking as the forces of good meet evil which rather predictably see’s the resident pet dog become a light snack for the house owners daughter and it is now that the film begins to go awry.

The problem with the movie is suffering with a split personality, it does not seem to understand if it is a horror or comedy and as a result the whole feature descends into a laughable mess.

As the movie progressed it was temporarily lifted by the introduction of a mysterious shaman (Ryosuke Miura) who came to battle the emerging forces of darkness and at last we had a character that genuinely felt interesting. This moody barely post pubescent hero skulked around the screen with an attitude that would make most teenagers proud and it was clear that this hormonal adolescent was more than a match for any genocidal megalomaniac spawn of Satan. But the brief respite was not enough to rescue us from the amateur CGI smoke tendrils or the reincarnated but now eight legged pooch that even the local postman would have laughed at.

I had high hopes for this film and it was a real shame that it failed to live up to its billing. There is real potential in this film to have been generally very scary but due to its indecisive nature, I found as the viewer I was laughing in all the wrong places. I truly believe if Hollywood decided to remake this using similar techniques but remove the comedic element, add in some serious CGI, change the characters and most of the story line then we could have another genre defining masterpiece.

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