Pin It
Favorite

Cheap Thrills 

by Ed Symkus


Why do we go to these movies? Why do we like to sit in big, dark, crowded rooms and wait, wait, wait for something behind the door to come and scare the bejeebers out of us? Maybe it's just fun to shout out loud en masse or, for the guys in the audience, to scream like a little girl.


There are plenty of opportunities for both in this English language remake of the hit 2003 Japanese film that got very little notice in the States. Set in Tokyo, it tells of college student Doug (Jason Behr of Roswell) and his girlfriend Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) who has gone along with him. At first it seems that she's also in school, but suddenly she's given a last second fill-in job, taking care of dementia-riddled Emma (Grace Zabriskie) when her regular helper, Yoko, no-shows.


Emma's home is a place of serenity, an aural escape from the bustling city, a place where the ambient sounds are of wind and birds instead of constant traffic. At least that's what the house is like when Karen first visits it.


Never mind that this film is about angry ghosts doing some downright horrific business. That's just the plot that was written on paper. It's really about sound. Yoko had heard some strange creaks and moans in the house, then went to investigate them. Now Karen is hearing the same creaks and moans. Most audience members, whether aloud or to themselves, will be saying, "Karen, don't check it out; you don't want to know what it is."


Bad things happen to just about every character, each incident accompanied by variations of those sounds. There may be low electronic rumblings combined with shimmering strings. There may be loud jolts of music -- or just the sharp, single pounding of a bass drum -- that, of course, are matched up with visual shockers. (It would have been nice if, just for once in a horror film, there wasn't a pouncing, hissing black cat.) The soundtrack features some of the scariest violin sounds since Psycho. And while making comparisons, there's also some of the most frightening bedroom footage since The Exorcist.


It's just not very easy to explain what the film is about. A haunted house element is prominent, as is something about a house-based curse that latches on to anyone who comes in contact with it (and can follow them even when they're elsewhere). A bruised and bandaged little boy named Toshio, along with that black cat, make regular, unnerving appearances. A series of flashbacks to previous tenants in the house is supposed to explain things, but they're presented in an awkward manner, and in many instances it's even hard to figure out how long ago they were supposed to have taken place.


What's clear is that Emma has lived there for a while, and she was in much better shape when she moved in than she is now. And there's no doubt that her son and his wife lived with her, and that her daughter was around when everyone else moved in. But too much isn't clear. About an hour into it, Karen turns to a detective and says, "I don't understand what's happening." Neither does the audience. Within the horrifying onslaught of the final reel, during which hardly a word is spoken, everything is (sort of) explained, even though nothing ends up making much sense. Ah, well, at least the film is a success in doling out the cheap shocks.





Publication date: 10/21/04

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Crash > Click > Cash
  • Crash > Click > Cash

    Lawyers and chiropractors already have your name, your address and the police report from your car accident — and they want you to hire them
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Starting Small
  • Starting Small

    A village of tiny houses in Spokane Valley could serve as a model for fighting homelessness in the region
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Drastic Action
  • Drastic Action

    Spokane among seven school districts sued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction; plus, trio of police-chief finalists are in town
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion

Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ed Symkus

  • Ode to <i>Joy</i>-less
  • Ode to Joy-less

    This reviewer really, really doesn't like Jennifer Lawrence
    • Dec 23, 2015
  • Winning Reboot
  • Winning Reboot

    Somehow, Arnold's return to the Terminator franchise makes for solid sci-fi
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • Dog of a Story
  • Dog of a Story

    Max wastes a promising idea on forgettable characters
    • Jun 24, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Lane Ends Ahead

    Spokane wants to improve a mile-long section of Monroe — but that means taking away two lanes
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Too Smart for School

    What happens when a 12-year-old prodigy tries to go to college in Spokane?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone


marijuana


Briefs


election 2016


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • Grazed and Confused
  • Grazed and Confused

    Washington regulators won a case confirming their authority over ranchers, but advocates say the state has been cowed
    • Dec 23, 2015
  • Game Changer
  • Game Changer

    Since Condon became mayor, Jan Quintrall has been responsible for some of the biggest changes in the city of Spokane — and some of its biggest controversies
    • Dec 17, 2014

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation