A Yakuza underling is given the assignment to rid an apartment of its tenants within a week. He tries a variety of desperate tactics to no avail. Soon his problems get worse as an evil spirit makes its presence known.
Fred Cabral <[email protected]>
User Reviews: World Apartment Horror comes with big names attached. Directed by Katsuhiro Ōtomo (Akira, Steamboy), based on a story by Keiko Nobumoto (Macross Plus, Fly Peek!, Tokyo Godfathers) with a screenplay by Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Perfect Blue), high expectations are understandable.
To an extent it satisfies. It was interesting to see how a crew of anime staff produced live action the camera angles and aesthetics in places are visibly reminiscent of anime productions, but certainly not limited by them. The characters are entertaining (Ita’s attempt at Yakuza suave is straight out of Dance Till Tomorrow or Black and White). It is a good film.
Briefly, Ita is a young Yakuza pimp given the job of evicting an apartment block of its foreign tenants. The job sounds easy enough, but unfortunately for Ita most of the residents know little Japanese, and communicating who he is and what he wants becomes a losing battle. He tries several techniques to get them to leave including racism, sex with the door open and karaoke (nerds like me will recognise the Urusei Yatsura TV series theme) to no avail. He winds up playing mah-jong with them, defeated. Then weird things start happening to the room he is staying in, and himself. Now, only a huge black American can save him… or can he???!?! The film is less a horror flick than a simple comedy with interesting undertones. The clear theme of racism, which is apparently particularly bad in Japan (a country which only opened its doors to outsider trade and immigration a couple of hundred years ago), is tackled well. I particularly enjoyed the simplistic yet succinct retaliatory comment made by one of the Koreans: "Japan is rich, don’t be cheap". Our global society works, and has done for a long time, as a playing field of prosperity and poverty, where players move according to their needs and opportunities. And why not? The horror aspect is weak and simple, though entertaining… for a while. The style resembles an (unfortunately) watered down version of Ōtomo’s brilliant Domu manga and Rintaro’s Doomed Megalopolis, but the film seems to peter out towards the last 40 minutes. The skill in, and the charm of, the movie is in the comedy, and when that moves aside for the terror aspects the whole clearly suffers. A better film would have managed the two together, light-heartedly.
The script and acting are of a high standard (with the exception of one or two of the English-speaking cast), but the set lighting seemed to me a serious flaw in design. Many scenes are so dark as to make it almost impossible to see what is going on. Perhaps it was the VHS copy I was watching, but YouTube DVD trailers make me doubt it. In this way it is visually reminiscent of many impressive HK flicks, such as Wong Jing’s To Live and Die in Tsim Sha Tsui or Wong Kar Wai’s Happy Together. Unfortunately this doesn’t sit well with the script.
However, overall it delivers pretty well and is entertaining and original. A decent film.