18 August 2012 | ebossert
Kaidan Horror Classics (2010) - a must see for fans of traditional, dramatic horror
The two external reviews (Vcinema and Twitch) do a great job at explaining the background of these four short films, so I'll simply provide some thoughts. Obviously, the directing talent on display here is top notch, and whenever Shinya Tsukamoto and Hirokazu Koreeda step behind the camera it's time to take notice. One thing to understand, however, is that these films are traditional horror/drama hybrids that rely more on thematic terror than visceral terror. This means that they are slow-paced and more concerned with character development and interaction than anything else.
Kaidan Horror Classics 1: The Arm (aka Kataude) (2010) – This 45-minute film is about a man who borrows a woman's living arm for the evening. Quite a bizarre premise, but this is successful at establishing its mood and themes. A slow-burner with no overt scare tactics, this nevertheless immerses the viewer into an odd world with strange characters, opting for a romanticized tone instead of outright scares. The arm itself looks incredibly real; the brief computer effects are cheap, but are still used nicely to create a traditional yet spooky mood.
Kaidan Horror Classics 2: The Whistler (aka Hazakura To Mabue) (2010) – Shinya Tsukamoto directs this 35-minute film. Two sisters live with their father deep in the forest, with the older sister caring for the younger one (who has been given only 100 days to live). It's interesting to see how Tsukamoto has transitioned to a more organic feel in his films, at times invoking gorgeous natural environments here (ala "Vital") with vibrant use of green. Much focus is given to sisterly bonding and conflict, which is anchored by intense performances by the actresses.
Kaidan Horror Classics 3: The Nose (aka Hana) (2010) – This story is about a monk who wanders the wilderness because of his facial deformity – a huge, nasty-looking nose, which is a reference to the Japanese "tengu" monster legend. After becoming involved with an unfortunate accident, his relationship with the nearby villagers becomes strained. The film portrays the morality of the protagonist and the villagers within a "grey zone", leaving one to wonder who the real monsters are. This film has a runtime of 33 minutes.
Kaidan Horror Classics 4: The Days After (aka Noshi No Hai) (2010) – Hirokazu Koreeda directs this portrait of the love and grief two parents feel for their late child, whose spirit wanders home on a regular basis to spend time with them. This 48-minute film is the last in this series and the only one that is safely classified as strictly drama (not horror). This is well made, so fans of the director will want to check it out.
In a nutshell, these films are definitely recommended and worth seeking out.