Japanese movie, AKA Shiryôha. Usui is the director of a popular supernatural T.V. show called Spirit Sightings. He is contacted by Tsuyoshi, who wants his apparently possessed sister Runa to get a free televised exorcism. Runa is opposed to the idea, and for good reason: the dead waves, which are “Radio waves believed to harbor paranormal attributes. They are carried primarily over television signals…and can have extremely baneful effects on some viewers” (like a high rate of suicides). The exorcism fails, and Tsuyoshi, not the most level-headed guy to begin with, goes berserk.
Something that shows through regularly in Dead Waves is that TV is bad, and that it has more presence in our lives than it should. Aside from the dead waves, there are the greedy TV execs and their all-important ratings: “At 20 percent, we go to Hot Springs.” They don’t care about anyone but themselves; they deal in “exploiting the mentally ill” and change reality to make better watching: “We’ll let our writers spruce up her story.” Then there’s Tsuyoshi putting Runa in a T.V. and telling Usui to “watch TV until you die.” Death is even symbolized by a test pattern.
There are a few eerie moments, particularly during Runa’s exorcism, when it’s revealed that creepy squirmy ghostie things are grabbing Tsuyoshi and Runa. The acting is competent for the most part, though the actor who plays Tsuyoshi goes a bit overboard. The makeup is good, and the movie is pretty original. However, what stuck with me most when I first saw the movie five years ago was that when Usui is afraid he gives high-pitched squeals of terror most unbecoming to a Japanese gentleman. I was watching it with my sisters, and we all laughed hysterically.
Overall, it’s worth a watch if you can find it, but it’s pretty obscure. IMDb doesn’t have a list of characters to go with the actors, which is why I didn’t include any of the cast’s names. I couldn’t even locate a trailer on YouTube–a clip was the best I could do.