Japanese Title: 劇場版 零 ゼロ
Romaji: Gekijouban Rei Zero
Release Date: September 26th, 2014 (Japan)
Running Time: N/A
Director: Mari Asato
Writer: Mari Asato (Screenplay), Eiji Ohtsuka (Original Novel)
Starring: Ayumi Nakajo, Aoi Morikawa, Fujiko Kojima, Jun Miho, Karen Miyama, Noriko Nakagoshi, Kasumi Yamaya, Minori Hagiwara, Yuri Nakamura, Kodai Asaka,
At an old girl’s school located in the heart of the countryside, student Aya Tsukimori (Ayami Nakajo) becomes part of an ancient “cursed incantation” and is trapped in her school dormitory. At the same time, students begin to report ghost sighting around the school while others disappear and are later discovered to have drowned in mysterious circumstances. Aya attempts to contact fellow pupil Michi Kazato (Aoi Morikawa) who begins investigating the disappearances of her classmates and the two become wrapped up in a deadly mystery…
The Japanese are the undisputed kings of Asian horror and this is one of the bigger horror titles of the year. Due to all of the low-budget psycho stalker an found footage movies put out, it feels like a while since I have seen the trailer for a decent yurei chiller. The last was Ju-On: Beginning of the End, which lasted quite a while in the Japanese film charts so I guess there are others who want to be terrified by spooks and ghouls.
Anyway, getting back to the movie, this film is the live-action adaptation of Tecmo Koei’s Fatal Frame video game series and is part of a multimedia project timed to coincide with the forthcoming video game release of Fatal Frame: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden for the Wii-U.
The film has been directed by Mari Asato, a female director who has been mentioned here on this blog thanks to films like Bilocation (2014) and Ju-on: Black Ghost (2009). In fact, her filmography is packed with lots of horror titles so I’m confident she can turn in a great work. On top of directing, she has also adapted the script from a novelisation of the game by Eiji Ohtsuka and while I haven’t read the novel I have read or watched other things he has created like MPD-Psycho (I’ve got the live-action series) and blackly humorous Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service manga which I have read all but three volumes of.
Lead actress Ayami Nakajo, a half British and half Japanese model, makes her film debut here while her co-star, the model Aoi Morikawa, has more acting credits to her name with an appearance in Schoolgirl Complex (2013), a film about looking at girls voyeuristically… I mean, from an adolescent boy’s perspective. Furthermore, their co-star Karen Miyama is more experienced and her most notable credit is that she was the lead voice actress in the Production I.G. film, A Letter to Momo (2011).
Now I’m very familiar with the Fatal Frame survival horror game franchise (that goes under the rather boring Project Zero name in the UK and misses the point of the camera reference) which has four instalments. I even considered writing a blog post about the games.
The stories are more or less similar but take place in different settings. In each of the games the player controls young women who are lured to haunted locations in search of loved ones who have disappeared in mysterious circumstances. Once at the location they find themselves surrounded by ghosts and their only defence is a Camera Obscura, a magical camera, which they use to photograph/fend off spirits. The genius aspect of this weapon is that it forces the player to look directly at the ghosts chasing them and wait until they line up a “Fatal Frame” which will blast the spook to the next world. It is very, very scary. The protagonists are usually slow in movement as well, which also ratchets up the tension. The games all take place in haunted settings but my absolute favourite is the second game, Crimson Butterfly.
This took place in a traditional village from the meiji period trapped in time at the moment of a cursed ritual with twin sisters desperately searching for each other. That game was intense on a level that Silent Hill was and one of the few games I had to pause the game and put the controller down to chill out after some moments.
So yeah, I’m looking forward to this one. Here are some images