Japanese movie, AKA Rinne, directed by Takashi Shimizu (The Grudge). The horror begins in the ‘70s, when a professor kills his two young children at a hotel, as well as nine other guests and staff members, for an experiment involving reincarnation. It indeed seems to have had some effect, as thirty years later angry spirits are nabbing the contemporary reincarnations of the victims and dragging them back to the hotel. Meanwhile, aspiring actress Nagisa has just been cast as the professor’s daughter (the actual child was six, so the age has to be bumped up a bit to twenty-five or so) in Memory, a fictionalized version of the mass murder. She begins having visions of the little girl, which are intensified when director Matsumura drags the film cast and crew to the real hotel. Soon Nagisa is seeing flashbacks of the murders, which leads her to suspect that she is the new embodiment of the little girl, and that history is doomed to repeat itself.
The filmmakers pose the question of whether or not there is life after death, and if our lives are preordained. The answer seems to be a solid yes, as all of the reincarnations of the victims are drawn to the place of the murders and re-murdered all over again. It’s apparently their destiny to die in a hotel for all eternity—Reincarnation is not the most optimistic of movies.
There’s a cute nod to The Shining; horrible murders happen in Room 227 (similar to The Shining’s room 237). Also reminiscent of The Shining is the professor’s son’s ball, which bounces around on its own. Destiny and possibly reincarnation seem to also be a theme in The Shining, as Jack is repeatedly told that he was always the caretaker, and he can be seen in a picture at the hotel that was taken before he was born.
I enjoy when someone says, regarding Matsumura’s film, “There’ll be lots of blood and gore.” As one of the foremost Japanese horror movie directors, maybe Shimizu is poking fun at himself. In fact there is goodish amount of blood and gore in this movie and as such it was marketed as part of After Dark Horrorfest, an annual collection of films that are deemed too disturbing for theatrical release.
Overall, the performances are good, aside from a short bout of overacting from Yuka as Nagisa. It’s also pretty original, serious, and thought-provoking; check it out especially if you’re a Shimizu fan (and watch for The Grudge’s Takako Fuji as a maid).