Senritsu Meikyû (The Shock Labyrinth) (Takashi Shimizu, 2009)
Takashi Shimizu has an overblown and entirely undeserved reputation on this side of the pond thanks to having directed the Grudge series of films, which are overrated garbage in the Japanese iteration of the series and overrated even more unwatchable garbage in their American remakes; the only good thing to have come out of the entire series is that it showed Hollywood that it was a financially viable idea to have directors come over to Hollywood and remake their own films (in other words, you have Shimizu to thank for Gela Babulani directing 13). While I will admit that Shimizu has directed one mildly watchable feature (Marebito), everything else I’ve seen from the man is awful. The Shock Labyrinth, which came and went with nary a whisper, may finally be the film that shows the public that his reputation is entirely undeserved.
I would attempt to give you a plot synopsis, as I usually do in the middle paragraph of a review, but this movie is plotless as well as pointless, to the extent that Shimizu, in the closing fifteen minutes of the film, had to add a Poirot scene, where a character finally puts all the pieces together and then narrates the story for the audience. Here’s a rule of thumb, aspiring filmmakers: if your script requires a Poirot scene, it’s shit, rewrite it. A Poirot scene is an automatic fail. The best I can do: a bunch of young-and-beautifuls take a sick friend to the hospital and discover it is not a hospital. All of them save one were involved in some sort of supernatural happening in the past, but why is that guy involved? (I am treating that like a spoiler, though by the first few flashbacks to Ken’s early life, you will have figured out his connection to the other flashback events if you’ve seen any three random mysteries made in the past century.)
The Shock Labyrinth is distributed in this country by a company called Well Go USA Entertainment, also responsible for the execrable Zombie Hunter. In that case, at least they got the “USA” part right. Here, well, even though this is a Japanese film, that may still be the most accurate of the four words. It is not well, it does not go, and it is in no way entertainment. *