Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 13th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2001
Director: Toshiharu Ikeda
Writers: Masaya Ozaki, Setsu Yamagawa
Cast: Koji Matsuo, Yuichi Matsuo, Hitomi Miwa, Asumi Miwa, Mikio Osawa
DVD Released: June 14th, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 117 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: Adness
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99
Synopsis: Shadow of the Wraith is two tales about the supernatural that are connected by two brothers who separately experience their own private hells.
Everyone has left school for the day except Ryoji and his girlfriend Mariko. There are making out on mattress in the school’s locker room when Ryoji suddenly feels someone is watching them. Asaji is a loner who barely speaks and is frequently ridiculed by her classmates. Until one day when Ryoji sticks up for her which leads to her infatuation with him. At first Ryoji doesn’t pay that much attention to Asaji’s advances that is until his girlfriend Mariko mysteriously dies. Asaji comforts Ryoji after his loss and when another girl Kazumi Shirai announces her feelings to Ryoji this enrages Asaji. Will Royji be able to let Asaji down gently or will he be forever in her grasp?
Kazuhiko ever since his brother Ryoji ‘s death has been staying with his sister who is secretly protecting from an evil supernatural presence that resides in her apartment building. Naoko and her family have recently moved in to the same building and she quickly forges a friendship with Kazuhiko. He explains to her how each apartment in this building that ends in the number five has had tenants who died bizarre deaths and that she should be careful since she lives in apartment #505. Strange occurrences start to happen to Naoko and her family including something that lurks in the closet.
Lately in North America Japanese horror films appear to be in vogue and while a few have been successful when shown to western audiences. Most seem to fall flat because of their slow methodical approach vs. going in for the kill. Shadow of the Wraith was directed by Toshiharu Ikeda who films like Angel Guts: Red Porno and Evil Dead Trap have made its way to western audiences. Direction wise Toshiharu Ikeda has a strong visual sense as he decorates the screen with green and red hues as well as using the Vertigo effect that Alfred Hitchcock made famous in his film of the same name. All the shots were meticulously and beautifully composed to gain the fullest extent of the impending doom that lurks around every corner. The films’ ending bears visually a strong resemblance to Dario Argento’s masterpiece Suspria. The sound design should not be overlooked since in most films of this nature sound is at least 50% of what sells the audience on the experience. The actress who plays the doppelganger Asaji is perfect casting as she is genuinely creepy. Overall Shadow of the Wraith is a visual tour de force from one of Japan’s last auteurs?
Adness presents Shadow of the Wraith in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratios. Colors are extremely important to the look and feel of this film. The colors are robust and have been nicely saturated. Flesh tones look healthy and black levels remains strong through out. The print is virtually flawless and there are no problems with compression or edge enhancement. Overall this is an impressive transfer by Adness that ranks up there with their best work to date.
This release comes with only one audio option the films original Japanese language track and it is presented in a Dolby Digital stereo. Dialog sounds crisp and for a stereo track this mix packs a lot of punch as every sound comes through with razor sharp clarity. There are no problems with hiss or distortion. Removable English subtitles that are easy to read and understand have been included.
Extras include the films original trailer as well as trailers for Resurrection of Golden Wolf, Never Give Up, Shikoku, Inugami and Isola which are all currently available on DVD from Adness. Rounding out the extras is informative liner notes written by Jim Harper author of Legacy of Blood. Shadow of the Wraith is an intense supernatural thriller that quickly goes for the jugular from the get go and it doesn’t let up tell the final frame, highly recommended.