Whether you’re more of a Pulse/Dark Water fan than a Ju-On/Ringu person, you can recognize the hallmarks of Japanese horror from miles away: loneliness, cramped spaces, and a preoccupation with creepy children are fixtures of the landscape. Oh, and curses, hexes, maledictions--any power or entity too ancient and powerful to combat by conventional means is a staple of the Japanese brand of horror, as are small casts and limited dialogue. More often than not, movies like Audition, Marebito, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, and so forth are character studies that use their limited casts and settings to intensify the horror of isolation and vice versa, often in reflection of the ills of Japanese society.
By those rules, Noroi: The Curse barely qualifies. It’s a movie that seems to have read the book on J-horror and decided, “nah.” A spiritual ancestor to The Wailing (and, of course, The Blair Witch Project), Noroi: The Curse is early example of what found-footage horror could have been: patiently, methodically, and with a sense of naturalistic dread so thick you could cut it, Noroi connects the dots between a series of seemingly unrelated incidents all across Japan, spanning the nation and reaching into the long and troubled history of the country as it amasses a headcount of twenty-five central characters (!) and subverts nearly every J-horror trope along the way. Most of the movie occurs in daylight, and the children, for once, are not to be feared.
But in order to preserve Noroi’'s singularly terrifying way of unfolding, I’ll abstain from providing any further plot details. Suffice to say that this is a mystery worth the time and effort to see to the end. It doesn’t mince words and it doesn’t shy away from hard answers, but you might just wish it had.
- Brian L.
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"Curtains" is where you can catch movie reviews by the Metal Lifestyle staff.