ContactSales: Nippon Television Network, Tokyo ([email protected])
Premiere: Deauville Asian Film Festival (Out of Competition, Tribute: Nakata Hideo), 6 Mar 2014. Theatrical release: Japan, 30 May 2014.
Presented by Monsterz Film Partners (JP). Produced by Nippon TV Production (JP), Twins Japan (JP). Producer: Okuda Seiji.
Script: Watanabe Yusuke. Photography: Hayashi Junichiro. Editing: Aono Naoko. Music: Kawai Kenji. Art direction: Harada Yasuaki. Costumes: Miura Shinichi. Sound: Kakizawa Kiyoshi. Action: Shimomura Yuji. Visual effects: Tateishi Shizuka.
Cast: Fujiwara Tatsuya (The Man), Yamada Takayuki (Tanaka Shuichi), Ishihara Satomi (Kumoi Kanae), Taguchi Tomorowo (Kumoi Shigeru), Ochiai Motoki (Jun), Taiga (Akira), Miura Masaki (The Man's father), Fujii Mina (Oshikiri Nana), Matsushige Yutaka (Shibamoto Takao), Kimura Tae (The Man's mother), Kawajiri Tatsuya, Morishita Yoshiyuki, Hirayama Yusuke, Matsuoka Emiko, Hayashida Naoki, Sato Shion, Hashino Ryunosuke.
Contemporary fantasy horror
2014, colour, 2.35:1, 111 mins
Directed by Nakata Hideo (中田秀夫)
By Derek Elley
Sun, 01 June 2014, 14:15 PM (HKT)
Feeble Japanese remake of an unimpressive Korean original has no atmosphere. Asian and genre events.
Japan, 1993. A young boy, lame in one foot and blindfolded, is called a "monster" by his father (Miura Masaki), who scolds his mother (Kimura Tae) for looking after him. Taking off his blindfold, the boy kills both parents with his intense gaze. Twenty years later, The Man (Fujiwara Tatsuya) is a still lame, misanthropic loner who uses the force of his gaze to freeze people's actions and hypnotise them to do his will, including robbing banks. One day, when freezing a park full of people, he finds that one person, Tanaka Shuichi (Yamada Takayuki) - a removal man working there with his colleagues Akira (Taiga) and Jun (Ochiai Motoki) - is immune. The Man arranges for him to be knocked down by a car but he recovers with surprising rapidity in hospital. After losing his job, Shuichi visits the driver who was hypnotised into running him over: Kumoi Shigeru (Taguchi Tomorowo), who runs a small guitar repair business with his daughter Kanae (Ishihara Satomi). Shuichi starts working with them and Kanae takes a liking to him. The Man becomes increasingly frustrated by his inability to control Shuichi, and it turns out that both are "evolved humans" who have appeared by chance at the same time. Shuichi asks Akira and Jun to help him beat The Man by blindfolding him. And then The Man's mother, who rejected him years ago, suddenly turns up.
After the decent, classically constructed The Complex クロユリ団地 (2013), J-horrormeister NAKATA Hideo 中田秀夫 slides back into the creative trough he's been in since Dark Water 仄暗い水の底から (2001) with Monsterz ＭＯＮＳＴＥＲＺ, a feeble remake of an unimpressive South Korean fantasy-horror, Haunters 초능력자 (2010). The script by WATANABE Yusuke 渡辺雄介 (Gantz ＧＡＮＴＺ (2010)) sticks to the general outline of the original by writer-director KIM Min-seok 김민석 — basically one long chase movie, as a psychic battles a man resistant to his powers — but doesn't fill in any of its gaping holes, or convince with its changes, or engender much compassion for its two leads. As in Kim's film, no explanation (of even the cheesiest kind) is given for the two men's magical powers, and their personalities aren't developed beyond cries of "why can't I control you?" or "why was I born like this?" Like the original film, which was basically a showcase for two handsome young actors, GANG Dong-won 강동원 | 姜棟元 and GO Su 고수 | 高洙, so Monsterz platforms an equivalent Japanese pair, with the rest of the cast just decoration.
The epicene-looking FUJIWARA Tatsuya 藤原竜也 (Light Yagami in Death Note デスノート (2006), plus Nakata's The Incite Mill: 7 Day Death Game インシテミル ７日間のデス・ゲーム (2010)) is physically well cast as the misanthropic, unnamed lead who dotes over the manga Akira (which featured a psychic) and can switch on mauve-glow eyes that freeze people in their tracks. As his "evolved human" opponent, YAMADA Takayuki 山田孝之 (Looking for a True Fiancée 指輪をはめたい (2011), the journalist in The Devil's Path 凶悪 (2013)) is less convincing in what should be a less one-note role. However, in what is primarily a psychological battle between two men, Fujiwara and Yamada show no chemistry together, making their final showdown a matter of little emotional consequence. In other roles, ISHIHARA Satomi 石原さとみ (The Incite Mill, Sadako 3D 貞子３Ｄ (2012)) is a routine love interest for Yamada's character, Taiga 太賀 and OCHIAI Motoki 落合モトキ are window dressing as his straight and screamingly gay workmates, and FUJII Mina 藤井美菜 and MATSUSHIGE Yutaka 松重豊 move around on the sidelines as two cops.
Aside from the opening, set 20 years earlier, and part of the finale, with people throwing themselves into the stalls of an opera house, the action in Monsterz fails to exert any shocks or even Nakata's trademark of ominous dread; the repetitive central section, in which the plot almost grinds to a halt, is especially slack. Even the lead's trick of freezing people's actions becomes hokey by the end, especially when involving the police. Visual effects are limited and just okay.
For the record, the main title is Monster; in the end titles it gains a "z" at the end.