12 North Street, Brighton, BN1 3GJ, Brighton
Back in the late nineties and early noughties, the originality of Wes Craven’s Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), David Cronenbergs’s Scanners (1981) and Videodrome (1983) and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy (1981) had long since been replaced by pale copies of John Carpenter’s original and intriguing Halloween (1978, can you believe that?).
American horror was stupid teens walking backwards into dark rooms, screaming and dying in a fountain of blood and eviscera. Rinse, repeat and yawn.
Perpetuated by a string of tedious sequels (Ten Halloween movies anyone? Nine Nightmare on Elm Streets?) it meant that these films were predictable, boring, cookie-cutter cinema. Made for making money, not audience interest.
But in a period of 6 years between[masked] a new kind of horror film emerged, reclaiming the genre from the tiresome hack-and-slash-stalker and jump-scare merchants who had flogged the medium for so long.
Instead of 30-minute plot/character set-ups followed by a gory kill every ten minutes until a sequel-baiting ending, these films used intelligence, restraint and atmosphere as their tools. Sure, there were jump-scares in these films (you wouldn’t have a romance without a kiss, after all) but they were minimal and more importantly, not the sole point of the film.
Instead, these filmmakers realised that the purest horror belongs to the viewer and is different for each person. Instead of depicting horror as a physical act, they created films that stimulated your own fears by utilising commonplace situations and themes and giving them a supernatural tweak. These were not ‘horror’ films, they were ‘fear’ films.
Ghost stories around a campfire – or cinema screen, in today’s world – are an ingrained social memory for all cultures around the world and it was Japanese filmmakers who reinterpreted these stories most effectively.
The origins of Japanese horror can be traced to horror and ghost story classics of the Edo period and the Meiji period, which were known as kaidan. Elements of several of these popular folktales have been worked into the stories of modern films, especially in the traditional nature of the Japanese ghost.
Revenge is a common theme, the plight of lost souls another. Between 1998 and 2003 the following films emerged from Japan:
Ringu (1998) Hideo Nakata based on a Koji Suzuki story
Audition (1999) Takeshi Miike
Suicide Club (2002) Sion Sono
Dark Water (2002) Hideo Nakata based on a Koji Suzuki story
Ju On - The Grudge (2003) Takashi Shimizu
One Missed Call (2003) Takashi Miike
That’s a roll-call of some of the scariest films of the last 50 years. Ringu – or the Ring – is perhaps the best known because it was the first to herald a reinterpretation of modern horror as psychological terror, created by real-world fears entwined with supernatural belief.
All of the above films are haunting (no pun intended) and mysterious, none less than Dark Water. This is a film known to make hardened reviewers cry because of its emotional impact. I did. These films are as far away from American slasher movies as a romcom. They are usually slender tales because the cinematic exercise is not one of telling a convoluted story, it is simply a framework used to study themes such as pain, loss and loneliness.
Dark Water is a subtle film, laced with themes of duty and love. I urge you to see it.
I’ve not included a link to the film’s original trailer because too much of the understated but haunting imagery used in the film is shown. Instead, I’ve collated some comments from several reviews and put them together for you to see here:
If you want to know more, have a look at these links, too:
I hope to see you on December 14th. Boo!
Don't forget to RSVP 'YES' if you plan to attend as we have limited seating.
For more details of this and future screenings, including trailers, visit the Asian cinema Club website at:
If you plan to attend a specific screening, you must RSVP 'Yes' to that event. Likewise, if your plans change and you can no longer attend the screening please pop back onto the website and change the RSVP to 'No' and allow someone else to take your place. Please note that if you reply 'Yes' but fail to attend a screening without changing your RSVP to 'No' more than twice you will be taken off the Members list.
Refunds are not offered for this Meetup.