films seen
average score
Japan - 48 years old
Alive and kicking
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Asato started off doing generic horror films but worked her way up to become a respected genre director. It's best to work your way backward through her oeuvre, but Japanese horror fans will find something to love here.


Under Your Bed

Andâ Yua Beddo
2019 / 98m - Japan
Drama, Romance
Under Your Bed poster

A rather peculiar film by Mari Asato. It's a far stretch from the type of horror films she usually makes, but that's not a bad thing. Generic J-Horror cinema won't be missing her, this mix of traditional Japanese drama and Wakamatsu-like oppression has a lot more to offer and is much harder to come by.

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Naoto is the type of person who fades into the background. People rarely remember him and he gets left out whenever there's a group activity. There's only one girl who ever took notice of him. A good decade later, he bumps into her again, and he hopes to reconnect with her. Sadly, she wound up in an unhealthy marriage.

The film looks and behaves like a regular Japanese drama, but with themes like misogyny, stalking, borderline-incel behavior, and whatnot, this clearly is anything but your average drama. It's an interesting film alright, the only problem is that Asato's directorial input felt a little slim. Solid and intriguing, but lacking a more personal signature.

Hyouka: Forbidden Secrets

2017 / 114m - Japan
Drama, Mystery
Hyouka: Forbidden Secrets poster

A somewhat surprising film from Mari Asato, who is best known for her work in the horror genre. This is full-blown drama with a touch of mystery thrown into the mix. A quest of a couple of high school kids into the mysterious events that happened 33 years earlier. A low-key and calm little film that does just about everything right, but doesn't truly excel at anything.


2013 / 119m - Japan
Drama, Horror, Mystery
Bilocation poster

One of Asato's better films. Maybe because it's not just a horror film, but also a pretty nifty mystery. Asato leaves the typical Japanese horror tropes behind her and delivers a film that's a little spooky, a little eerie, but mostly very mysterious. Well acted, nicely shot and interesting from start to finish.

Kidan Piece of Darkness poster

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.

Fatal Frame

Gekijô-ban: Zero
2014 / 104m - Japan
Fatal Frame poster

The Grudge: Girl in Black

Ju-on: Kuroi Shôjo
2009 / 60m - Japan
The Grudge: Girl in Black poster

Cellular Girlfriend

Keitai Kanojo
2011 / 84m - Japan
Cellular Girlfriend poster

Mari Asato doing cheap horror filler. It's no surprise the Japanese horror wave had a pretty limited appeal. The market was quickly swamped by an army of copycats that made it much harder to get to the good stuff. Their less-is-more approach made them vulnerable to cheap knock-offs (the found footage niche dealt with similar problems). Cellular Girlfriend is another perfect illustration.

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This time around, we're dealing with a haunted phone game that is targeting lonely men. It's a game where you have to keep a relationship with a game profile. Once your affinity hits 0% or 100%, the game messes with your mind and turns you into a killer. To stop the curse, they'll have to figure out what happened to Erika, the haunted profile.

It's another simple curse based on past trauma. The presentation is very minimal, the scares are limited, and the performances are pretty bad. As a short and quick horror filler, the film has some worth, but it hardly stands out in a sea of similar films. Fans of the genre will find some enjoyment here, others can safely skip it.

Ring of Curse

2011 / 91m - Japan
Ring of Curse poster

Twilight Syndrome: Dead Go Round

Towairaito Shindorômu: Deddo Gôrando
2008 / 71m - Japan
Twilight Syndrome: Dead Go Round poster

A short and cheap Japanese horror film. The premise is pretty fun, but Mari Asato didn't have much in the way of budget and time to turn this into something of significant worth. It's not too bad if you're looking for generic horror filler, or if you're a fan of the video game series this was based upon, as long as you keep your expectations in check.

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Seven people are invited to try out the latest game by a legendary underground game developer. They meet up at an amusement park, where an eerie clown welcomes them and introduces them to the game. Soon enough they find out that the game is not without risk and that the clown has some deadly games in store for them.

The performances are pretty bad, the film looks dead cheap and the horror elements are rather bland (apart from the clown's mask I guess). The idea behind the film is pretty interesting though, which adds some much-needed intrigue to the second half of the film. It's not quite enough to save it, but it's hardly the worst Japanese horror I've seen.

The Boy from Hell

Jigoku Kozô
2004 / 50m - Japan
The Boy from Hell poster

A lesser film in the Hideshi Hino series. A bit surprising maybe, as Mari Asato is a pretty decent horror director, and should've been capable enough to handle a film like this. Some effects are really too poor though (not to mention utterly pointless, like the car ride in the beginning of the film), which makes it a lot harder to enjoy this one.

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Daio is a young boy growing up in a loving family. A carefree car ride turns into a nightmare when the boy sticks his head out of the window and is decapitated by an oncoming truck. The mother is devastated, when she's given the chance to resurrect her son, she leaps at it right away. The boy who returns isn't quite the son she remembered.

If properly executed, it could've been pretty interesting, but this felt more like a poor Teruo Ishii clone with bad CG. The effects are truly poor, the performances are awkward and the horror never really impresses. The film is pretty weird and out there, so there's at least some appeal, but not enough to save The Boy from Hell.