Kuronezumi (Black Rat) (Kenta Fukasaku, 2010)
There was a time when you could pick up a horror film from any random country in southeast Asia and be guaranteed, if not a great time, a time better than you would get from 99% of the horror films made in America (for that matter, anywhere in the west) in the same year. Those days disappeared sometime during the first third of the last decade, more or less, but the average level of horror coming out of Japan, Korea, Thailand, et al. is still a good deal higher than one can find in America, England, Spain, and most other western countries (France, of all places, has been turning out some stellar horror pictures, and of course there’s Guillermo del Toro’s Mexican base of operations). That said, every once in a while, you run across a southeast Asian horror film that seems as if it could have come out of a big-budget Hollywood studio, for all the derivativeness, senselessness, and downright stupidity to be found there. Japan, who led the charge into the golden age of Asian horror, has also been responsible for the worst Asian horror films of the past few years (one word: Grotesque). While Black Rat doesn’t quite scrape the bottom of the barrel, it’s so generic that you will likely have forgotten the majority of it within a half-hour after you’ve turned it off and gone on to something more exciting, like hitting yourself in the head with a cudgel.
Plot: group of kids. Masked person killing them in inventive ways.
Yes, that’s it. You’ve seen it at least a half-dozen times before, even if you’re not a horror film fan—and if you are, you’ve probably seen this hundreds of times. Hundreds. The only thing that distinguishes movies like this from one another is the inventiveness, or lack of same, in the kills. Every Saw movie after the second qualifies. The vast majority of Hollywood horror remakes, both of foreign and of domestic films. For that matter, the Japanese have been doing it more and more (I could copy and paste this review into the
header a couple of pages above this for X Game, also released in 2010, and not have to change a single word). It’s not that it’s a terrible movie, it’s just something you’ve seen so often before that why would you want to watch it again? Grab any random horror flick from France or Ireland or, hell, Turkey or Albania or Estonia (yes, Estonians are making horror films now!) and you’ll probably get something at least slightly more original than this. * ½
The Tokyo Shock-branded trailer comes with engsubs and (rightly) focuses on the gorgeous title sequence. But it also mistakenly brands Fukasaku as the director of Battle Royale. (Kenta adapted Battle Royale from Takami Koshoun’s novel; his father Kinji directed. Kenta’s first feature as a director was BRII.)