A wonderful collection of shorts, visually pleasing, fun to watch and from time to time refreshingly weird.
The good stuff
Shimizu is back with another horror flick. Don't expect scares or gore though, what the film lacks in genuine horror it makes up for with fantasy and drama elements. While set up like a classic Japanese horror film, Shimizu trades scares for mystique and mood. Not a bad film, just approach it with the right expectations.
Takashi Shimizu's latest film is quite a bit different from his usual output. Best known for directing trademark Japanese horror films, Shimizu has been branching out in recent years. Homunculus is a clear step away from the horror genre, though where he ended up exactly isn't as easy to explain.
Homunculus is a mystery with strong supernatural elements. Go Ayano plays Nokoshi, a strange man who is dead wealthy, but lives in his car and goes through life as a homeless person. One day he is approached by a medical student who wants to drill a hole in his skull. Nokoshi isn't interested, but the boy persuades him and before he knows it, he can see personifications of people's traumas.
Shimizu has a little trouble establishing the tone of Homunculus, and he spends a little too much time on the drama at the end. Other than that, this was pretty great. Pretty rad effects, an original plot, unpredictable until the very end and a great central performance. Don't go in expecting a typical Shimizu film, just sit down and enjoy what Shimizu throws at you.
Worthy but flawed
Takashi Shimizu is returning to his roots with this film. Howling Village is a Japanese horror that could've easily been released 20 years ago. A horror film steeped in historic trauma, with ghostly apparitions reaching out from the realm of the dead to pester the living. For diehards only.
Inunaki Village is a ghost town, hidden deep inside the Japanese forests. When two kids go there to shoot a horror video, they are attacked by spirits. They get out alive, but Akina doesn't come out unscathed and not long after she commits suicide. Kaena, the sister of Akina's boyfriend, decides to investigate.
The film has its moments, but Shimizu messes up the balance between narrative and horror. There's simply too much backstory to wade through and since it's all so predictable, it slows down the film unnecessarily. The haunts aren't particularly scary either and though the second half is definitely better than the first one, this is hardly a standout film in Shimizu's oeuvre. Basic filler.