POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, October 22, 2011 Share
Tis the season for some scary ghost stories and with Halloween coming up, why not tune into Japanese ghosts, which I find scarier than American ghosts. Retribution is the perfect movie for hosting your own J-Halloween Party. Just invite some close friends over, cook a nice dinner, play the movie and scare the pants off everybody. Whatever happens pray that you never encounter a ghostly lady in red. So just what makes Retribution so eerie?
Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the man who made Cure (1997,) Kario aka Pulse (2001,) and many others creates spine chilling suspense in Retribution (2006.) Right from the start you know that Retribution is going to be something special as a woman wearing a red dress has her head held under muddy disgusting water in a rundown Tokyo slum. Part of the horror is how someone so young and beautiful is made to suffer and die in such terrible conditions and to make it worse the killer does nothing to dispose of this woman’s body. He just nonchalantly gets into his car and drives off, as if he has killed hundreds of women everyday and one more is just part of the job. Fear not because hard edged detective, Yoshioka, (Koji Yakusho) is on the case. After the body has been removed, Yoshioka stares into the yellowish murky puddle and spots a button. Later on inside his apartment, he just happens to be looking at his coat and noticed one button is missing. To make matters worse, when fingerprints are ran through the computers at the police station, Yoshioka is identified. He begins to believe that maybe he is the killer despite not knowing the victim and lacking any motive for murder. Yoshioka’s sanity is put to the test as his whole bed starts to shake. While earthquakes are common in Tokyo, this one is not. After the room stops shaking, a female figure in black moves in the background. Then the bedroom wall behind him breaks apart and a woman in a red dress crawls out. Yoshioka wakes up from this bad dream and wonders if it is a dream. This sends him to the police department psychiatrist as they try to relieve Yoshioka’s overwhelming stress. His relationship with his girlfriend is unsteady as Harue is always leaving his apartment causing him to be alone. Disagreements with his partner heat up. Perhaps the biggest problem is no clear suspect. He believes he is up against a serial killer as he desperately tries in vain to find his murder. All these pressures combine at once to breakdown his sanity. He erupts in anger at potential suspects. He goes out of control when apprehending a doctor accused of murdering his son and he goes over the top during interrogations. Something is causing him to endure so much mental pain and that something is an Onryou. An Onryou is an angry ghost who returns to torment the living for a past wrong. That is where the real sting of Retribution comes from. Yoshioka’s is haunted by his past for an action he cannot remember and there is nothing he can do about it. The best ghost stories show us something nasty about our pasts and how we all would like to gloss over it. The Onryou will not let this happen. She comes after Yoshioka and gets right in his face until he slowly begins to understand. Still, understanding is only the first part that must be followed by an action to be effective. Will the ghost destroy Yoshioka both mentally and physically? While I would like to answer that question, I can’t without spoiling a great movie.
The next choice is up to you as you ponder what to watch in the coming days before Halloween. If you what to see a well-made movie that has enough suspense and scares to jolt you off your sofa then check out Retribution. You won’t be disappointed and your party guests may sleep with a night lite on and that’s really what a good horror movie should do. Happy viewing and be sure to check out other J-horror such as Apartment 1303 and the original Ringu movie series.
Good night and be kind to the woman in red ready to pounce on you.
Highly recommended 5 out of 5 stars
"The Asian Aperture" is ©2011 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.
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