17 August 2001 | Matthew Grenham
Otomo makes an assured move from Manga and Anime to live action in this excellent comedy horror film.
"Akira" director and Manga writer/artist Otomo Katsuhiro's first live action film is a stylish and clever blend of horror, comedy and Yakuza pic.
Closer in tone to "Roujin Z" than "Akira" and with more than a passing resemblance to Otomo's manga work "Domu", "World Apartment Horror" is, on the surface a light and humourous comedy of cultural misunderstandings ("Me Yakuza man!" shouts Itta at the immigrants, "Ah Yaku-san" they shout back.) set in a crumbling apartment block, and a tale of a demon in a toilet who doesn't like the Japanese and will do all it can to drive mad the Yakuza who are sent to evict the immigrant occupiers. Under the surface however, much like "Roujin Z", the film manages to make some serious comments about Japanese society, in this case about immigration and racial (in)tolerance.
Otomo's skill is in creating a tone where the horror aspects sit comfortably next to the comedy. Like "An American Werewolf in London", the funny parts are really funny and the scary parts are really scary, and combine to make a film that feels complete in every way.