in Review, Shocktober

Noroi: The Curse (2005)

I made a film this summer. I won’t disclose the details here but I will say that it was a mockumentary that utilized found footage elements. We decided upon this style because it was the best way to tell the kind of story we wanted to tell. Another reason was we thought it might be a more practical style of film on a low budget. Only now do I realize that this style isn’t easier. Do you realize how much footage you have to shoot for a mockumentary? Not to mention the variety of footage you’ll need to keep the film interesting. Noroi: The Curse helped me appreciate how much work really goes into this kind of film.

Noroi: The Curse is a mockumentary that utilizes found footage, interviews, clips of variety shows, old photos, vintage footage, everything you can think of to tell the story of an ancient demon and its influence on the world. The film frames itself as a lost documentary from famed paranormal investigator Masafumi Kobayashi (Jin Muraki). To entice the viewer, we are told first from a separate opening sequence that while Kobayashi was working on the film we are about to watch, his house was burned down, killing his family, and he that himself disappeared.

Kobayashi’s documentary explores the famed journalist as he meets with and interviews seemingly unrelated people who have experienced paranormal events. We meet a mother and child experiencing strange noises and dead pigeons by their home. We also meet a girl with psychic abilities who has displayed her talents on TV. Thirdly, there’s real life actress Marika Matsumoto playing herself and sharing her experiences being haunted by a malevolent spirit.

What ties all these people together? An ancient demon named Kagutaba that has found its way into all of these people’s lives. Kobayashi learns that Kagutaba used to be kept at bay by the rituals of a small village. This village was later destroyed to make way for a dam. Meaning the only way to stop the spread of death caused by Kagutaba is to go to the dam and perform one last ritual. But Kautaba won’t go quietly into the night.

To be honest, as intriguing as this film is it’s very confusing. I don’t even understand the title. It takes quite a while to piece together the mystery and the film moves at a very deliberate pace. It’s all worth it in the end but for most of the film’s runtime, I was scratching my head wondering what anything had to do with anything. It just seemed like a series of random cases being analyzed. Of course, these case are interesting, particularly the psychic case but I would have appreciated a clearer explanation of what the film was about from the get-go.

The film was directed by Kōji Shiraishi known for a string of popular J-horror titles including Grotesque, Carved, and the another notable found footage film Occult in 2009. He also directed Sakado vs. Kayako where the girl from Ringu fights the girl from Ju-On or something? Regardless Noroi: The Curse will likely go down as his best film for its restraint, style, and winding mystery. It’s not for everyone but if you’re looking for an unconventional horror film I think you’ll FIND it in this film. Get it? Cuz found footage. Which again, is harder than you think.

I forgot to mention this guy who believes in “ectoplasmic worms”. He’s pretty funny.