Movie: Chakushin Ari
MPAA#: Not applicable
Showtime: 8:40 PM
Attendance: approximately 12
Weather: clear, cool
Food: Dr. Pepper, Glossette Raisins, Junior Caramels from Sun-Ray Variety ($4)
Expectations met?: yes
Pre-show Ads: milk; Hyundai; milk again
Trailers: In The Name of the King; Meet the Spartans; Possession; Fool’s Gold
Chakushin Ari is the original Japanese version of One Missed Call, which was held over from last week in Cinema 3. Fortunately, I came prepared for the possibility that the same film would be shown two weeks in a row: I downloaded a copy of Chakushin Ari, transferred it to my PSP, and watched it with earphones in while its remake tried to give tonight’s very small crowd the heebie-jeebies.
So, Chakushin Ari was directed by the prolific Japanese horror director Takashi Miike, who attests that he is a fan of David Lynch, David Cronenberg, and Paul Verhoeven. The film stars Kou Shibasaki as Yumi, the lead role taken by Shannyn Sossamon in the American version; she also starred in the original film of Battle Royale, one of the most upsetting and harrowing films you are ever likely to see from any country. It also features Shinichi Tsutsumi as Hiroshi Yamashita, the role played by Ed Burns.
Probably the biggest surprise about Chakushin Ari is how faithful the remake is. I started it running on the PSP just as the remake was starting in the theatre, and there were scenes that played out at exactly the same time in both versions. Some scenes get shifted around, some aspects are emphasized more heavily than others, but up to a point, they are very similar.
BUT. Chakushin Ari is the far better film, and here’s why:
1) it has nudity. Not much; just a short scene with Hiroshi’s dead sister, but hey, at least it’s something.
2) it has gore. Again, not much, especially for a movie by Takashi Miike, but it is effective. For example, the girl who gets pushed into the path of a commuter train is shown dialing her phone as she lays dead in the American version; in the Japanese version, it’s her severed arm making the call. In the TV studio scene later on, the American version shows the victim being strangled by a ghost from inside of her own neck; the ghostly hands appear under the skin CG-style. In the Japanese version of the same scene, the victim’s head is twisted off. Painfully.
In fact, it is the TV studio scene that goes on for a much longer time in the Japanese version, which in turn leads to a much longer running time; as the credits rolled (again) on One Missed Call, Chakushin Ari still had about half an hour to go. The TV producer in the Japanese version also has a very apropos line about the simple decor of his studio- “the simpler, the better.”
It’s a philosophy that works very well in J-horror films: blanch someone’s skin, make long black hair spiral backward out of a drain, show a little kid with a butcher knife in the shadows, and you will creep people out. If you pile on a bunch of bad CG effects of people’s faces crawling with centipedes like One Missed Call, people will say “look at those bad CG effects.” Dear Hollywood, please take note: you don’t need CG. The real world is creepy enough if you know what to show. Take a look at any five-minute stretch of Blue Velvet; Takaski Miike did.
So, CG and cultural creepiness differences aside, the big difference between Chakushin Ari and One Missed Call is the ending. In the original film, both heroes appear to be dead but they also appear to have achieved redemption, talking with their late loved ones and even showing mercy to the dead young girl whose ghost has caused all the trouble in the film. In the American version, only Ed Burns dies and the evil little girl is dragged off, Ring-style, by the ghost of her mother. The American version also leaves a more obvious opening for sequels; the Japanese version did have two sequels.
So did I enjoy Chakushin Ari more than One Missed Call? Yes. Should you watch them? No. God, no. That said, I am glad that I got to watch this instead of First Sunday or The Bucket List. Here’s hoping that something new finds its way to Cinema 3 next weekend.
Potential openings next weekend: Cloverfield, Mad Money, Teeth, and 27 Dresses.
Hoping for: Cloverfield.