Sunday, February 13, 2011

Horror Film Review

Dead Waves aka Shiryoha (2006):  Japanese horror flick that you will swear you've seen before.  Pulse (Kairo), The Ring (Ringu), and The Grudge (Ju-on)...all involve pissed off dead people just itching to cause trouble for the living.  Pulse is my favorite of the three (after watching it, I discovered my local Walmart doesn't stock red duct tape).  Dead Waves is a variation on the same theme, albeit with a bit of a twist.

Hiroshi Usui (Toshihiro Wada) makes a TV show called Spirit Sightings.  Due to a dip in ratings, the network bigwigs want him to spice things up.  A man claims his sister, Runa (Shihori Kanjiya) is possessed so Usui and his film crew, and exorcist, head on over.  Runa's brother is certifiable and she just wants to be left alone.  Well, they do the "exorcism" anyway, get it on tape, and then things go all batshit crazy. 

Turns out that the doctor Usui's girlfriend had been seeing for her depression (before she killed herself) discovered that the suicide rate in the city increases dramatically during the hour Spirit Sightings airs.  Usui's learns from an email that the show puts out "dead waves."  Think ghosts hitching a ride on the TV signal.  People who watch the show, like his girlfriend, get possessed and die.  Runa goes nuts, her brother even nuttier, and Usui must stop the broadcast of the exorcism episode.  Ok, there's a little more to it, but I'd be here all day.

Dead Waves has a few problems that left me scratching my head.  There's this black mold-like stuff in Runa's place that retreats when she drips her own blood on it.  Neat idea, but I missed the significance.  On the tape of Runa's exorcism, we see a naked man and naked woman (both very dead looking) slither up out of the floor and belly crawl to where Runa and her brother are sitting.  Are these the things living in the dead waves or just some zombies that have been living at the bottom of a lake?  Later, Usui pulls up the floor boards and finds...something.  I seriously couldn't tell what it was.  Could have been skeletons, could have been more black mold.  Weirdest of all, is the TV crew's sound woman who went missing after hearing bizarre voices in a recording.  She turns up later, obviously no longer right in the head, popping in and out of a closet and pealing off Xena's battle cry.  I'm not kidding.  I'm afraid much of this film was wasted on me.  Lost in translation, as it were. 


Acting:  Not distractingly bad.  Wada as Usui broods a lot.  Kanjiya as Runa and the man who plays her brother are mostly way over the top.  The sound woman screaming like Xena just needed to go away. 
Story:  The idea is good but the execution was flawed.  It was handled better in Pulse
Direction:  Confused and lethargic.  There could have been some decent scares. 
Production Values:  I have no complaints in this department.  After watching A House of Mad Souls, Dead Waves seemed almost Hollywood quality. 
Gore/FX:  No blood to speak of, and what special FX there are were competantly done. 
Ending:  Yeah,'s not exactly full of sunshine and teddy bears. 
Verdict:  Should you see Dead Waves?  If you're a fan Japanese horror, then yep.  My advice?  Go watch Pulse again (the original, not the lame American remake).

My Rating:  2 out of 5

By the way, I also saw RED this weekend.  This action/comedy was an absolute blast.  With the likes of Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, Karl Urban, Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Cox, and Ernest Borgnine, how can you go wrong?


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