Toronto Japanese 2016 Review: THE INERASABLE Takes You Down A Cursed Rabbit Hole
A young woman, Kubo, begins to hear a strange, swishing sound from the bedroom in her apartment. Convinced that the source is supernatural she contacts a novelist, I, who specializes in writing about her fans’ ghost stories. Together Kubo and I begin to investigate the history of the apartment building. They will discover what is happening to Kubo has happened to other renters before her. Putting themselves at risk they dig deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the property going beyond its borders, back several decades and generations, to discover an ancient evil.
Whenever we Westerners read curses, ghosts and Japan we are instinctively reminded of the popular hairy ghost franchises. But billing The Inerasable as a supernatural thriller is probably more apt than calling it an outright horror. Not to detract from how effectively creepy and unsettling Nakamura Yoshihiro’s film is but it is not scary. That may set off some alarm bells but hear us out for a moment.
Opting out of straight up scares Nakamura's film claws and scratches at your nerves. At times it quietly suggests or hints at the presence of this curse the pair are following; but even when the presence of the curse is in the wide open it is almost at a whisper. You are left begging for something, anything, to reach out and grab someone. Anyone. It is Nakamura’s exercise in restraint that will drive you as well to madness. What one could call a shortage of scares we would call a bounty of chills.
Instead what Nakamura and frequent writing partner Suzuki Kenichi’s adaptation of Ono Fuyumi’s novel Zan’e accomplish is far creepier. By further investigating the legacy of a curse and its lineage throughout the ages there is nearly a hopelessness that you feel by the end of the film. By which, if this curse has lasted this long, affected this many generations, what hope do any of us have to conquer it or at best, avoid it?
Technically when Nakamura employs practical effects is when these cursed events are most effective. Some of the Curse’s earliest victims return as crawling shadows and this shadow visual effect hampers its impact. When they are not mixing it up with digital effects is when those instances of this particular curse are most effective. Something as simple as someone standing outside a frosted window is by far creepier than a crawling shadow in this instance.
Nakamura Yoshihiro demonstrates how deftly he can handle any genre he chooses. If we reflect on the two films he has released this year, both playing at this year’s festival, we would be so inclined to call 2016 the year of subtlety. Both films, The Inerasable and The Magnificent 9, are wildly different in their setting and story but complete their objective as subtly and slightly as possible without the excessiveness either genre encourages to achieve their goals - scares and laughs.
Nakamura and company ignore expectations of the Japanese curse genre with The Inerasable and deliver something very creepy and unsettling.
The Inerasable has it's Canadian Premiere at the Toronto Japanese Film Festival at the Japanses Canadian Cultural Centre this Friday, June 10th at 7pm. Visit the link above for ticket information.
- Yoshihiro Nakamura
- Fuyumi Ono (based on the novel by)
- Ken'ichi Suzuki (screenplay)
- Mansaku Fuwa
- Ai Hashimoto
- Ryô Narita
- Kentarô Sakaguchi