The good stuff
Grotesque is for all those people who need a lesson in what torture porn flicks really are.
Koji Shiraishi is one of those faithful horror directors. Even though the international interest in Japanese horror has waned over the past decade, Shiraishi's love for the genre clearly hasn't. It's nice to see though that Shiraishi isn't married to a single style of horror, Hell Girl shows a different side of Japanese horror cinema.
The film isn't your typical less is more, black-haired ghost horror, instead it's a more fantastical kind of horror that offers a mix of modern and traditional Japanese horror elements. The story about an ongoing curse feels contemporary, but the characters and moody kills hark back to the classier horror of the past.
The film looks pretty nice (safe some poor CG moments), performances are solid and the mix of fantasy and horror offers a nice change of pace. I wasn't a big fan of the setting (the Japanese pop scene isn't all that interesting), but it hardly affected the film. One of Shiraishi's better films.
Interesting thriller with supernatural elements to spice things up. There's also a series attached to this film, no surprises there, but Shiraishi makes enough of an effort to have this film rise above its roots. It gets a little too plot-heavy when the film is working itself to its finale, but all in all an entertaining diversion.
A Record of Sweet Murder
Interesting film, about a reporter visiting an old friend who is on the run from the authorities. A nifty handheld thriller, with a nice twist and some minor horror elements. Well acted, intriguing from start to finish and sporting a very rewarding finale. One of the better Shiraishi films I've seen.
Kidan Piece of Darkness
A decent but slightly underwhelming horror anthology. Six respected directors tackle 10 horror stories, but with a setup like this there simply isn't enough variation in style and themes. There are no real weak entries, on the other hand far too few shorts that make an effort to stand out. Solid filler, but nothing more.
A simple but effective sequel to the first film. Shiriashi loses himself a little in the police investigation, which needlessly slows the film down. Luckily the kills are still lots of fun and the monster is freaky enough, even though the CG doesn't do it justice. It's a short and amusing horror flick, nothing too out of the ordinary but good fun nonetheless.
A Slit-Mouthed Woman
Noroi the Curse
Dark Tales of Japan
The Ring vs The Grudge
Shiraishi made a couple of proper horror films, sadly this one was poor and grating. The J-pop band is horrendous, the less is more approach doesn't work at all and the entire film just looks cheap and unfinished. A terrible fluke, but at least it's kind of short.