Judge David Johnson was known on the high school football field as "J-Horror."
Hitting our shores for your J-horror viewing pleasure is this batch of shocker shorts from Tokyo, the world headquarters for TVs shows starring creepy-ass little girls. But, wait, stop the presses! Is it true that there are hardly any creepy-ass little girls to be found on this disc? Why yes. Yes it is. It's a remarkable happening, an event that has been prophesized for so long, something that no one would ever think would come to pass in a thousand generations, it's true: a Japanese horror anthology has been released that features almost no weird looking little girls running around freaking everyone out. I don't know what happens now. Does the sky turn to the color of sackcloth? Are burnt offerings resumed in the Jerusalem temple?
Actually, I think there is one weird little girl. She show sup in the first segment, hidden under some poor schmuck's bed covers, but it's a far cry from other discs I've seen from this series. And it's not just the little girl factor that's lacking. So are the chills and jump scares I've come to expect. Don't expect to get your J-horror shudder groove on: the bite-sized stories featured here don't have much in the chills department.
First things first, here's a sense of the episode selection. The 13 episodes—transferred well into 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, Japanese 2.0 stereo with English subtitles, no extras—run only about five minutes long, and stream together fairly seamlessly, aside from the weird ghost-handprint intermissions between stories. Pretty much all of the shows deal with ghosts and hauntings in one way or another, focusing on characters that have a variety of run-ins with the supernatural.
As you can probably guess, it's tough to really get into plot or character when you have five minutes to work with. As such, tension in these horror nuggets is fairly hard to find, leaving the filmmakers the one real tool at their disposal: the jump scare. Yes, the jump scare, one of J-horror's primary weapons in creeping the @#$% out of you, something that has been used to great effect in other entries into the genre. Too bad they're in such short supply here; the fright barometer is operating at low levels on this disc. There are a handful of memorable moments, specifically when an old woman with rotted teeth shows up out of nowhere and, from that first segment, yet another old woman with rotted teeth shows up out of nowhere.
Hey, wait, is the "old woman with rotten teeth" the new "creepy-ass little girl"? Maybe it is! And maybe I'm the first to bear witness into this dramatic thematic shift in the horror genre. Oh joy!
Of course, it still doesn't make up for the fact this disc represents 65 minutes worth of mediocre thrills from the Land of the Rising Sun and that J-horror fans will likely have to be hardcore completists to be interested in this release.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Media Blasters
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