19 November 2006 | gavin6942
A Mystery Waiting to be Unraveled
A young actress is drawn to her role in a horror film and also to a hotel from her dreams: a hotel where eleven people were murdered before she was born. What is her connection to her character and the ill-fated hotel? I have two concerns with this film. First, as the film was in Japanese, I am left thinking there were certain aspects that were left out for the American audience (condensed dialogue in the subtitles). Second, the story is pretty simple and might have been better as an hour-long episode of something like "Masters of Horror" (though by no means am I suggesting it was unworthy of being a film). I could also say certain parts were unclear (there are what I assume to be spirits that are never explained), but this does not take away from the film.
I enjoyed the film taking place largely on the set of a horror film. Horror films referencing the making of horror films (or in the case of "Popcorn", the watching of horror films) have a unique style about them. A self-critique. There is also something ironic about how the actress is told the director in the film will want lots of blood and gore, while the film we were watching had relatively little (and compared to some of the Japanese films I've seen I thought this was about as tame as you can get).
The film also offers a great bait-and-switch I cannot reveal. Through most of the film you will be expecting a particular direction or ending. But I assure you what you think you're going to see after the first several minutes will change considerably.
If you find dolls creepy, there's a doll in the movie for you to be creeped out by. Personally, I did not find it very disturbing, but I can see how for others it might be. (Also, there's something less scary about reading words on a screen rather than hearing them whispered ominously to you in a language you understand.) Not a bad film by any means. As far as Asian films go, I'd sooner recommend "The Untold Story" or "The Eye", but this one is alright. And if "Ju-On" is any indication, we'll soon be seeing an Americanized version of this piece. So catch the original first, while you can.