Movie Details

Shock Labyrinth

"The Shock Labyrinth: House Of Horrors" is about a group of teenagers dealing with the disappearance of a childhood friend, Yuki, who was last seen in an amusement park's haunted house. On a rainy day, 10 years after the incident took place, Yuki inexplicably returns. However, soon after reuniting with her friends, she collapses, and the group rushes her to a nearby hospital. But things are not quite as they seem at the medical centre. As the night wears on, the group sinks deeper and deeper into the events from a decade ago that led to Yuki's disappearance.

Language: Japanese
Subtitle: Na
Classification: PG13
General Release Date: 13 Jan 2011
Genre: Thriller / Horror
Running Time: 1 Hour 28 Minutes
Cast: Yuya Yagira, Misako Renbutsu, Ai Maeda, Erina Mizuno, Suzuki Matsuo
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Format: NA

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Writer: Wong Wei Ling

Writer Ratings:
Overall: 2.5 Out of 5
Cast: 2.0 Out of 5
Plot: 2.5 Out of 5
Effects: 3.0 Out of 5
Cinematography: 2.5 Out of 5

Watch this if you liked: “Infection”/ “Kansen” (2004), “To Sir, With Love” (2006)

The first selling point of the film is definitely being under the helm of director Takashi Shimizu, famous for his Japanese horror "Ju-on" series. For those in familiar terms with Shimizu's works might expect the similar pale-faced, long hair ghost popping out from nowhere to induce screams from the audience this time around but the reviewer's initial impression has been proved otherwise as the movie progresses.

"Shock Labyrinth" starts with a monologue about the childhood memory of a man and the story follows with the sudden return of a girl, who has been missing for a decade and how it leads to the mysterious reunion of six childhood friends. A dark past seems to be unveiled way too early in the beginning of the story, dropping some of the total surprise points of the movie.

The development of the story is rather expected and cliche. The psychological twist implied in the movie fails to deliver as it is too weak and straightforward. Basically, the film clearly drops the bombshell without leaving any space to spur the audience's natural sense for mysteries and interpreting twists. The story emphasizes the already over-abused hatred and revenge themes despite having a major loophole; there is no closure for the murder methods used by the antagonist of the movie.

The audience might be kept on their seats, silently wondering where the ghosts will be appearing when as mentioned earlier, there are no visible ones with the likes of Sadako or Kayako of "Ju-On" that will pop the audience's surprise balloons. However, the beautiful yet disturbing background music becomes a bit of a saviour. Eerily annoying tunes of a children's choir, music boxes and piano solos make up an enjoyable composition to be enjoyed in the movie. The sets used in the movie such as an old hospital to the actual Labyrinth of Horrors at Fuji-Q High Land amusement park in Japan, inject realism that will be appreciated by any fans of the horror genre.

The colour play of the movie is nicely executed as the colours play the representation of the past, present and imagination timelines in the movie. The past in presented in sepia, the present is more contrast while the imagination is in lomographic shades. Although the 3D effect was decent enough, it does not however have many advantages over the normal screen. It serves more as a visual pleasure rather than a delectable presentation of art, visual and intellectual combined. Takashi Shimizu's horror magic seems to have lost after the success of "Ju-On" and "Shock Labyrinth" could have had a lot more extreme elements that will earn it more stars and make any movie fans queuing up to get the tickets for the show without any doubts.

After all that, "Shocking Labyrinth" is strictly for fans of the infamous Japanese horror genre.

Cinema Online, 06 January 2011

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