‘St. John’s Wort’: It’s the Cure for What Ails You (review)

Japanese movie AKA Otogiriso. Nami (Megumi Okina), a video game designer, has just inherited a mansion from her late father, whom she never knew. Wanting to check out her new place (and get some game ideas), she and her ex-boyfriend/fellow designer Kohei (Yôichirô Saitô) head over there. What they don’t know is that the house is haunted, and there’s a reason Nami didn’t know her father.


It’s low-budget, but the special effects aren’t bad. Actually it looks a lot like a video game. When Nami and Kohei drive to the house, the main camera angle used is a point of view shot, similar to a driving game. The colors of the scenery are over-bright and arbitrary, and look computer-generated. Then there’s the meeting with the caretaker, which is definitely like a video game; he’s not shown as a person, but as an animated icon with a dialogue box.


I think it’s a clever movie, but also a bit slow. A lot of time is spent on Nami and Kohei roaming the house and not finding anything particularly interesting. It can also be confusing. But it’s creepy too, and pretty original. One of my favorite things about the movie is that (unusual for the thirty or so Asian horror movies I’ve seen) there is a romantic subplot, but it’s wonderfully subtle and painless.


A word about subtitles vs. dubbing: the first time I saw the film, it was subtitled. The second time I saw it, it was dubbed, with no option for subtitles on the DVD menu. I prefer subtitles myself; I don’t like the translation to be even more Americaned-up for me. For example: [an object flies across the room suddenly] Subbed Kohei: “That was a surprise!” Dubbed Kohei: “Oh, that scared me!” So basically get subbed if you don’t mind reading and dubbed if you like characters’ mouths not matching their words—like a Japanese video game.


Published by GhoulieJoe

I wuvs the horror movies and like to write snarky reviews about them. I also included some pretentious as hell microfiction (don't worry, it's at the bottom).

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