Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Writers: Takashige Ichise & Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Starring: Riona Hazuki, Hiroyuki Hirayama, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase, Manami Konishi, J Odagiri, Kji Yakusho
Country: Japan
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 104 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

by Andrew James
     From the director of the Japanese horror film Kairo (Pulse), Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and the producer of Ju-On (The Grudge) and Ringu (The Ring) comes their newest fright fest, Retribution. Anyone who reads this site regularly know how I feel about these Japanese movies and their unappealingness to my tastes. In Retribution we may have found the worst of the bunch.

      A police detective in Tokyo is trying to solve a crime of murder. While investigating, several clues point to himself as the culprit. He of course keeps this secret to himself as he doesn't know the victim and doesn't remember ever meeting her. Meanwhile, more murders occur with the same MO around town, but each with a different killer.

      Soon, the detective is haunted by the spirit of a woman claiming he killed her. I admit, a couple of these haunting sequences were enough to get my hair to raise a bit on the back of my neck and some goosebumps to appear on my arm. Other than that, this film held very little interest for me.

      First of all, the pacing is not what a western audience expects. Each shot or sequence seems to take forever in which nothing happens. It is extremely slow and the camera lingers at times when it is not necessary.

      The plot itself (besides being a ghost story) is ludicrous and makes very little sense as there are holes all over the place and events and characters are not thoroughly explained at all.

      I had a tough time sitting through this movie, and I know others did as well. One thing that's nice about a festival (especially being in the press), is I get to immediately discuss ideas and thoughts with other critics. And although we all found the movie not completely without merit, it was pretty much a unanimous decision that the movie was too slow, made no sense and just wasn't all that scary. Having said that, I did hear a couple of mumblings from regular audience members who thought it was a 3 or 4 star film (out of 5). So make up your own mind.

      Scenes that were supposed to be scary or freaky, were very often laughable and "out there." I'm not entirely sure what the creators were thinking in some of their decisions about how to depict a ghost or those tormented by said ghost.

      I don't want to drag this out. It simply was unenjoyable and I would not recommend it to anyone but the hardcore J-horror fans. It looks pretty in places and there were one or two, brief moments of chills, but otherwise the preposterousness of the entire story had holes big enough for me to drive through... or better yet, drive away from.

Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer

Links: - full cast and crew
Official Site