The good stuff
Grotesque is for all those people who need a lesson in what torture porn flicks really are.
Shiraishi, best known for his horror work, comes with something a little different. A Beast in Love is tricky to describe, but at heart it's a dark (even vile) comedy with thriller, horror and light romance elements to flesh things out. The result's a bit of a mess, but if you can appreciate Shiraishi's sense of humor, there's a lot of fun to be had.
In an unnamed town, deplorables gather to escape from their dark past. One particularly shy-looking guy stands out between all the crazies, when pushed even he turns into a manic serial killer. Several people are out to get him, but it's a creepy cross dresser who appears to be the most interested.
There are no heroes, no likeable characters. The film does come with a big trigger warning since one of them is a cross dresser and there's only room for negative stereotypes here. If that doesn't bother you than you can brace yourself for a bit of excessive Japanese weirdness. The technical qualities aren't quite up to par, but the comedy hit the mark for me and the runtime is pretty short. Very fun and entertaining filler.
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.
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.
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.
Koji Shiraishi's entry in the Hideshi Hino horror anthology. Back when this was released, Shiraishi wasn't a "big" name yet. His status has changed quite a lot over the years, which makes it always a bit more interesting to watch these forgotten films. Dead Girl Walking certainly isn't the worst film in the anthology.
On an ordinary day, the young Sayuri suddenly gets a heart attack. She is pronounced dead by the doctor, but Sayuri is conscious, and she can still walk around. She is left in the care of her family as her body slowly starts to deteriorate. When her presence becomes too hard to handle, they decide to kill Sayuri, but she manages to escape.
As with most of these films, the premise sounds pretty basic, but things do get weird real fast. The grim black and white cinematography and some oddball events in the second half really upgrade this film from a simple horror film to something with a more pronounced and memorable signature. Short and sweet.
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.