Sunday, 14 February 2010

CREEPY HIDE AND SEEK (JAPAN/2009/MASAFUMI YAMADA)

Belatedly riffing on the Japanese horror craze for technology, Creepy Hide and Seek follows curious teenager Ryoko as she saunters down the rabbit-hole of a new craze – online hide and seek. The rules of the game are revealed to us at the beginning through a girl named Mai-Mai. Slavishly obeying a set of instructions on a chatroom, Mai-Mai performs a voodoo ritual with a doll, then finds a hiding place in her own house. A string of messages persuades her that she is winning the game, before a mysterious hand strangles her from behind. Ryoko, as it is revealed, was a close friend of Mai-Mai’s, and is not satisfied with the popular explanation that she simply ‘disappeared’. Determined to unravel the mystery herself, Ryoko plays the game herself, not realising she is soon to face the intangible terror that has claimed so many victims before.

As the title suggests, it’s not a particularly cerebral piece of work, nor is it in any way original. Whatever this film might have wanted to say about the internet and Japanese folklore in modern culture has most likely been articulated better in another horror film – Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse comes to mind, as does Noroi: The Curse. Even more disappointing is that the film’s central concept is half-baked, and the lure of this hide and seek game is pretty unclear. But as simple as the film appears, it is still worth watching, if only for the accomplished sound design which almost creates music from fear.




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