Fuku-chan of Fukufuku Flats 福福荘の福ちゃん (2014)

Fuku-chan of Fukufuku Flats      Fuku-chan of FukuFuku Flats Film Poster

Japanese Title: 福福荘の福ちゃん

Romaji: Fukufuku-sou no Fuku-chan

Release Date: November 08th, 2014

UK Release Date: July 13th, 2015

Film Distributor: Third Window Films

Running Time: 111 mins.

Director: Yosuke Fujita

Writer: Yosuke Fujita (Screenplay)

Starring: Miyuki Oshima, Asami Mizukawa, YosiYosi Arakawa, Kami Miraiwa, Yuuki Tokunaga, Mei Kurokawa, Maho Yamada, Takeshi Yamamoto, Kanji Furutachi,

Director Yosuke Fujita has taken nearly a decade to follow up his debut film, the marvellous low-key comedy Fine, Totally Fine (2008), with another feature film. In the time between the two he has been making short films (including the Cheer Girls entry in Quirky Guys & Gals) and a TV movie. Fujita also spent this time crafting the screenplay for Fuku-chan which, like his first film, is equally filled with eccentric and loveable characters’. Fujita’s inspiration for the film was the comedian Miyuki Oshima, a regular face on Japanese television, and he challenges her to take on the role of a guy with a fear of women who audiences will surely come to love.

Tatsuo Fukuda (Oshima) is a nice guy and has the nickname ‘Fuku-Chan’.

Fuku-chan (Miyuki Oshima)

Continue reading “Fuku-chan of Fukufuku Flats 福福荘の福ちゃん (2014)”

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The Locker 2 渋谷怪談 2 (2004)

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The Locker 2                                                                                     Shibuya Kaidan 2 Poster

Japanese: Shibuya Kaidan 2 (Shibuya Ghost Story 2)

Romaji: Shibuya Kaidan 2

Japanese Title:渋谷 怪談 2

Release Date: 07th February 2004 (Japan)

Running Time: 71 mins.

Director: Kei Horie

Writer: Osamu Fukutani, Issei Shibata

Starring: Maki Horikita, Asami Mizukawa, Kenichi Matsuyama, Akane Kimura, Chisato Morishita, Tomohisa Yuge, Chiaki Ota,

I found the first instalment of the Shibuya Kaidan franchise to be hampered by a disappointingly generic story with wafer thin characters while the low-budget effects offered mixed results. The Locker 2 improves greatly on the first film.

Ayano (Horikita) has been given a terrible gift from Rieka (Mizukawa) – a key to a coin-locker. Ayano tracks down the coin-locker but decides that she should leave it be. Unfortunately some students at her school have heard of the urban legend surrounding a coin-locker in Shibuya which grants wishes. Their interest in the coin-locker will release the curse again.

Following directly on from the last movie the world of Shibuya Kaidan has already been established and so the sequel has a lot of material to work from including characters. There is also a greater examination of the origins of the curse and more twists on the coin-locker legends. As a result of this there is more time spent massaging scenes and details to create a solid story and even tone. The quality of the script has improved. Nothing evolutionary or wholly original but enough to make the plot tighter and believable, improve the flow of the action, and add details to the characters.

Continue reading “The Locker 2 渋谷怪談 2 (2004)”

The Locker 1 渋谷怪談 (2004)

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The Locker                                                                                            Shibuya Kaidan Poster

Japanese: Shibuya Kaidan (Shibuya Ghost Story)

Romaji: Shibuya Kaidan

Japanese Title:渋谷 怪談

Release Date: 07th February 2004 (Japan)

Running Time: 71 mins.

Director: Kei Horie

Writer: Osamu Fukutani, Issei Shibata

Starring: Fumina Hara, Maki Horikita, Asami Mizukawa, Chisato Morishita, Mayuka Suzuki, Soko Wada, Tomohisa Yuge, Tsugumi Shinohara

I first heard of the director Kei Horie when I did one of my trailer round-ups a few months ago. His latest film, Sentimental Yasuko, sounded very interesting so I checked his filmography where I discovered that he had a number of J-horror titles early on in his career named The Locker 1 and 2 and he had starred in Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-On: The Grudge 2. Both The Locker 1 and 2 are available as a set in the west. I am going to review them one at a time to find out what they are like.

Rieka (Morishita) and her friends Ai (Suzuki), and Akihiko (Wada), are on a group date with a bunch of guys. They travel to the countryside for a camping trip and end up in a field with a Jizo statue which indicates that the ground is sacred and looked after by the statue. Rieka hears a baby crying but none of the others do. Ai points out that “Rieka has always been the one who says strange stuff” but it is clear that the group are spooked and they soon head back to Shibuya where they have stored some of their stuff in a coin locker. When Ai and Akihiko disappear Rieka is concerned. A student Rieka is tutoring named Ayano (Horikita) tells her of a haunted coin locker in Shibuya that brings luck if you confess love in front of it but this does not seem to be the case and that coin locker may be much more deadly than first imagined.

Shibuya Kaidan Haunted Phone

The Locker is low-budget take on the urban legends which surround coin lockers. It attempts to weave together ideas surrounding love and responsibility and the disposable nature of such things in the modern world with a nice twist on the coin locker legend. It is these elements which are the strongest in the movie because every other element is under-written and its horror imagery is all too familiar but even within the clichés it has moments when it shows a degree of skill.

Continue reading “The Locker 1 渋谷怪談 (2004)”