Paranormal Activity: Tokyo Night パラノーマル・アクティビティ 第２章／ＴＯＫＹＯ ＮＩＧＨＴ
2010, colour/b&w, 1.85:1, 90 mins
Directed by Nagae Toshikazu (長江俊和)
By Derek Elley
Wed, 02 March 2011, 16:14 PM (HKT)
An OK Japanese entry in the docu-horror genre. Genre events and ancillary.
Sugunami ward, west of Tokyo, 3 Sep 2010. Student Yamano Koichi (Nakamura Aoi), 19, records with his video camera the arrival home of his sister Haruka (Aoyama Noriko), 27, after she broke both her legs in a car accident in the US. Their father Shigeyuki (Tsumura Kazuyuki) is leaving on a business trip, so Koichi has to look after his sister while she slowly recovers. The following morning Haruka finds her wheelchair has mysteriously moved during the night, so Koichi leaves a pile of salt in the room, joking that it will "drive off evil spirits". Next morning, the salt has been flattened, and a video recording that Koichi secretly made shows the salt being moved by an unseen force. Haruka is sceptical about his haunting theory, but is finally persuaded after she hears poltergeist noises and a glass suddenly shatters when the two are having dinner. Koichi's friend Nagoshi Jun (Kujirai Kosuke) brings round Kure Misuzu (Yoshitani Ayako) — a friend of his girlfriend Yaguchi Mai (Morinaga Maaya) — who claims she can see ghosts. After inspecting the house, Misuzu becomes troubled and abruptly leaves. Koichi continues to video the house at night and further unexplained events happen. He brings in a purifier, Prince Saionji (Yamada Noriyuki), to cleanse the house, and the process seems to work for a while. But when the haunting returns and becomes more violent, Haruka reveals more about her car accident in the US.
With an original title that translates as Paranormal Activity: Tokyo Night パラノーマル・アクティビティ 第２章／ＴＯＫＹＯ ＮＩＧＨＴ (2010), this was made as an official Japanese "sequel" to the micro-budgeted US docu-horror and released locally at the same time as the US sequel. But as an opening credit admits, it's nothing of the kind, and is in fact based more closely on the original 2008 film by Oren Peli, with an average family (here a brother and sister rather than a married couple) haunted by a pesky poltergeist that finally turns violent. Like all films in this genre — from The Blair Witch Project to South Korea's The Haunted House Project 폐가: 귀신들린 집 (2010) — it purports to be footage discovered after the event.
Though dramatically slow-moving, it's far superior to the Korean movie thanks to its more natural, less annoying characters, a typically Japanese adherence to its slow-burning premise, and a gradual accretion of mood that does finally pay off in the final 10 minutes (with a small nod to the Japanese The Ring リング (1998)). TV actress AOYAMA Noriko 青山倫子 and young NAKAMURA Aoi 中村蒼 (The Lady Shogun and Her Men 大奥 (2010)) make a convincingly argumentative/loving sister and brother, with the former contributing some mature scepticism and the latter a laid-back humour, and the direction by NAGAE Toshikazu 長江俊和 (Ghost System ゴーストシステム (2002)) keeps the audience involved by forcing it to concentrate on the brother's footage for the smallest details of paranormal activity.
Special effects are cleverly handled on a minimum budget, and the simple use of a rumbling sound effect to denote haunting is also well deployed. For fans of this very specific genre, Tokyo Night is OK without being in any way awesome. For more general horror fans, it only has the curiosity of its Japanese setting going for it.
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Theatrical release: Japan, 20 Nov 2010.
Produced by Presidio (JP). Executive producer: Hanada Yasutaka. Producers: Nakayama Kenichi, Kase Takeshi.
Script: Nagae Toshikazu. Photography: Hirao Toru. Art direction: Inoue Shinpei.
Cast: Nakamura Aoi (Yamano Koichi), Aoyama Noriko (Yamano Haruka, his sister), Yoshitani Ayako (Kure Misuzu, Mai's friend), Kujirai Kosuke (Nagoshi Jun, Koichi's friend), Morinaga Maaya (Yaguchi Mai, his girlfriend), Yamada Noriyuki (Prince Saionji, the purifier), Matsubayashi Shinji (his assistant), Tsumura Kazuyuki (Yamano Shigeyuki, the father).