The good stuff
Hideo Nakata's tech thriller. It's a bit like watching an update of The Net (1995), only with some serial killer elements thrown in to make it a bit more exciting. It's actually somewhat successful too, though this film mostly underlines that Nakata hasn't been on top of his game for quite a while now.
Makoto is late for a meeting and stuck in traffic. He decides to take the train instead, but he forgets his phone in his cab. Shortly afterwards his girlfriend receives a call for a man who has found Makoto's phone. She picks it up and everything seems back to normal, what she doesn't know is that Makoto's phone got hacked.
Stolen Identity isn't a bad film, Nakata's direction is competent and a couple of minor twists keep things interesting. On the other hand, it's not a very notable film. Performances are decent, so is the cinematography and score, there's just little here that makes a big impression. Entertaining filler though.
Worthy but flawed
Another entry in the Ringu franchise, helmed by Nakata himself. It's more mystery/drama than horror though and the few scares that are there are greatly ineffective. It feels like a film from a bygone era, but judged on its own merits it's not a terrible film. Just don't expect too much from it and don't try to compare it to the other films in the franchise.
A mediocre thriller. Performances are decent and there are a few tense moments, but the plot isn't all that interesting and the drama fails to impress. Though short, the film is basic and struggles to keep the attention. It's been a while since Nakata made anything worthwhile, this film isn't doing much to fix his faltering reputation.
Mediocre dramady about forced retirement and the difficulties some people have with the change of pace. Japanese work culture is a bit different from ours, but it shouldn't be too hard to follow. Sadly the performances aren't that great, the comedy is rather weak and Nakata isn't the best drama director. Not terrible, but very forgettable.
I think Nakata has reached the point where he needs to ask himself if he feels he still has something to add to the horror genre. Stigmatized Properties felt like a 25-year-old film that just happened to be made last year. It is so insanely derivative and uninspired that you have to wonder why Nakata even bothered.
After a comical duo disbands their act, one of them lands a job as a TV host, with the other on board as a screenwriter. His job is to seek out haunted houses and spend the night there. He gets lucky on his first job as his camera registers a spirit. He becomes an overnight sensation and before he knows it, he is on his way to his second haunted house.
There is a lot of padding here, which isn't very interesting at all. Generic characters and Nakata's tepid direction simply don't support a dramatic narrative. The bigger problem though is that none of the haunts are scary. It's just the same old ghosts and apparitions doing the same old things. The ending gives the film a small boost, other than that this is for the most hardened J-Horror fans only.