ContactSales: Fortissimo Films, Amsterdam ([email protected])
Premiere: Venice Film Festival (Out of Competition), 7 Sep 2011. Theatrical release: Japan, 17 Sep 2011.
Presented by The Rabbit Horror Film Committee 2011 (VAP, Dentsu, Phantom Film, Epic Records Japan, Ogura Jimusyo) (JP). Produced by Ogura Jimusyo (JP), Agung (JP), in association with Fortissimo Films. Executive producers: Michael J. Werner, Esther Yeung. Producers: Ogura Satoru, Tanishima Masayuki.
Script: Hayashi Sotaro, Hosaka Daisuke, Shimizu Takashi. Photography: Christopher Doyle. Editing: Hori Zensuke. Music: Kawai Kenji. Theme song: Scandal (Burn). Lyrics: Rina. Art direction: Ikeya Noriyoshi. Sound: Iwanami Yoshikazu. Special effects make-up: Nishimura Yoshihiro. Visual effects: Kazuno Tsuyoshi. 3-D supervision: Ui Tadayuki.
Cast: Mitsushima Hikari (Kiriko), Kagawa Teruyuki (Kohei, Kiriko's father), Shibuya Takeru (Daigo, Kiriko's younger brother), Ogawa Tamaki (Kyoko, Kiriko's mother), Omori Nao (hospital doctor), Tanabe Momoko (young Kiriko).
2011, colour, 3-D, 1.85:1, 83 mins
Directed by Shimizu Takashi (清水崇)
By Derek Elley
Sun, 11 September 2011, 17:56 PM (HKT)
Okay entry from the maker of The Grudge, with a giant rabbit and more atmosphere than plot. Some theatrical beyond Asia, on strength of director Shimizu Takashi's name, plus ancillary.
Japan, the present day, June. Kiriko (Mitsushima Hikari) and her younger half-brother Daigo (Shibuya Takeru), about to turn 10, live with their widowed father Kohei (Kagawa Teruyuki), a book illustrator. One day, outside his school, Daigo inexplicably beats a rabbit to death, and subsequently stops attending lessons. Kiriko, who lost her voice when still young, and works as a librarian at the school, becomes worried by Daigo's behaviour. Their father, however, seems to ignore the problem, wrapped up in his latest job, a pop-up book about The Little Mermaid. On Sunday 20 June Kiriko takes Daigo to watch a 3-D horror film, in which a rabbit doll appears to float out of the screen and into Daigo's hands. He stuffs it in his shoulder bag and takes it home. That night a giant version of the doll pulls him through a cupboard on the stairs and into a beautiful, lit-up fairgound. The next night Daigo is pulled by the rabbit through the mattress of his bed and into the wonderland again, though this time Kiriko follows him and the group goes to an eery, abandoned hospital. On Tuesday, Kiriko tells her father, "Kyoko is coming. I saw her. Daigo too." She remembers a scene from her youth, when her father came home with his pregnant second wife and, in anger, Kiriko attacked her. Kiriko and Daigo appear to think that Kyoko has come back to haunt them in a rabbit costume, so they determine to "kill" the doll and burn it.
SHIMIZU Takashi 清水崇's horror movies generally feature one simple idea, repeated in a circular way and with a final twist, and are more notable for their atmosphere than for plots that actually make much sense. Tormented ラビット・ホラー３Ｄ (2011), his second 3-D outing after The Shock Labyrinth 戦慄迷宮 (2009), is no exception. Less pure horror and more like a fairytale that's gone wrong — with passing references to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland — Tormented is a notch down on the previous film but okay as a throwaway diversion. Against all expectations, it also manages to wring a bizarre sense of dread from a character in a large rabbit costume.
In general, the 3-D effects are less elaborate than in Labyrinth, though one sequence, in which the protagonists watch a 3-D horror movie that strongly recalls Shimizu's previous film, would hardly work flat: a rabbit doll, surrounded by floating feathers, appears to emerge from the movie right into the audience's lap. Otherwise, the use of stereoscopy is largely decorative (spiral staircases, increased depth of field), for what is, at the end of the day, a mood piece which tricks the audience into keeping its eye off the ball. The biggest visual shock is reserved for the end — an effect that's not so much unexpected as one that leaves the viewer still working out how it was done as the end credits roll.
As the father who knows what is going on but takes little part in the action, KAGAWA Teruyuki 香川照之 (the father in KUROSAWA Kiyoshi 黒沢清's Tokyo Sonata トウキョウソナタ (2008)) is more a bystander to the action than a participant. Child actor SHIBUYA Takeru 澁谷武尊, mostly from TV, is good as the boy with a rabbit fixation but, in a mute role that could have been played by any young actress, petite star MITSUSHIMA Hikari 満島ひかり, is low-key compared with some of her previous films (Love Exposure 愛のむきだし (2008), Sawako Decides 川の底からこんにちは (2009)). Shimizu seems uninterested in exploiting her assets, dressing her throughout in plain clothes and downplaying her usually lively, physical presence. Visuals by noted d.p. Christopher DOYLE — working for the first time in 3-D and with Shimizu — are suitably fairytale-like and make some play with colours, though not in any thoroughgoing way. KAWAI Kenji 川井憲次's music does a professional job, racking up both atmosphere and tension when required.