Last week I caught the trailer for an upcoming Unearthed Films release called A Record of Sweet Murder, directed by J-horror director Koji Shiraishi. I had decided this particular film looked good enough to pre-order, and decided to look up some other films by Shiraishi. I was happy to see Noroi: The Curse and Sadako vs Kayako (essentially Ringu vs Ju-On). I had heard about Noroi before, and decided to give it a go. I am glad I did!
In the found footage mockumentary style, Noroi: The Curse follows paranormal investigator investigator filmmaker Masafumi Kobayashi as he investigates various supernatural occurrences related to a woman and her son. We find out early on that Kobayashi’s house burns down and his wife dies, and that he himself is nowhere to be found. Over the course of filming, Kobayashi comes in contact with a plethora of interesting characters, including a particularly eccentric man with psychic abilities who sports a hat wrapped in tin foil and a tin foil jacket. As people start to die, he discovers a connection with the demon Kagutaba and a town full of religious zealots who try and appease the demon. What follows is a pretty insane ride full of twists and turns, and a pretty spooky and weird climax.
I know the found footage style has grown stale for a lot folks, but I still enjoy it when it’s done well. Such is the case with Noroi. The mockumentary style was pulled off to near perfection, and the actors in the film played their parts extremely well. There were plenty of unsettling shots that could produce a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach. During the last hour of the film the viewer certainly gets a gnawing emotion of dread that follows the narrative. You’re not quite sure what will happen next, but you know it won’t be good. The legend of the demon and its connection to the town is a lot of fun, and really adds to the overall creep factor.
Noroi is not perfect, however, and there are a couple reasons why. One of these reasons is that it just feels a tad too long. The first half of the movie is rather tedious, not enough to just turn the film off, but enough to notice. Along with that, it can be a little difficult to put all the pieces of the plot together to form a cohesive story. Eventually you get that whole picture, but slicing together the story is not an easy task. The viewer who perseveres through these two complaints is sure in for a treat during the second half of the film, and that’s why I rate it as highly as I do.
Koji Shiraishi is a name not unknown in the world of J-Horror, and I am definitely looking forward to checking out some of his other films. Noroi: The Curse was a great introduction to his work. While not perfect, the creepiness of the found footage style mixed with the dark and dreary narrative resulted in nothing short of a haunting experience. This is definitely a film I will revisit time and time again, and I definitely recommend it to my fellow horror fiends.
IMDb rating: 7/10
My rating: 8/10