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Gurozuka 
Written by: on January 8th, 2012

Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2005
Director: Yoichi Nishiyama
Cast: Keiko Saito, Yuko Kurosawa, Yukari Fukui, Nozomi Ando, Yoko Mitsuya

DVD released: January 10th, 2012
Approximate running time: 84 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Synapse Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95


Synopsis: A group of teenage girls go to a remote house in the woods to rehearse for and film a play that they are working on. Shortly after their arrival they discover a videotape with a killer, who also happens to be wearing the same ‘deigan’ mask that is also prominently featured in the film that they making. Things then turn for the worse, when one girl nearly dies of food poisoning and other girls go missing. It quickly becomes apparent that there is someone else in the house with them. Is it the killer that they saw in the video or is there something more sinister at hand.

There was a time when J Horror churned out inventive and truly horrifying films that left a lasting impact that reached across the Pacific all the way to Hollywood, who would even make some homegrown remakes of the more popular J Horror. Those days are long gone and while some of the blame the demise of the genre can be attributed to the oversaturation of these type of films. The more obvious reason why J Horror has went into hibernation is due to the lack of creativity and recycle things that have since become caricatures.

This brings us to Gurozuka, a J Horror film that was made 2005, a few years after the genre had reached its apex. On the surface this film has all the hallmarks that one expect from a J Horror and yet the end result fails to capture the mood that has becomes synonymous with the best films to immerge from this genre. So what went wrong with Gurozuka?

The first thing that spring to mind after watching this film was a sense of deja vu. Outside of the killers’ mask, there really is not much else that has not been exploited in countless other j Horror films. And while the ‘deigan’ mask does give this film some much needed creepiness. It is not enough of a shot in the arm to save what is a rather droll affair.

The plot meanders along, the characters are equally bland and the kill scenes are at best adequate. Other area’s in which this film is seriously lacking is its direction with all but devoid of any style, this film’s inability to sustain tension and performance wise none of the cast leave any lasting impression. Ultimately Gurozuka is a by the numbers J Horror film that even the most diehard fans of this genre will find a chore to sit through.

The DVD:

Synapse Films presents Gurozuka in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Colors look accurate, black levels look consistently good, details generally look crisp and there are no problems with compression.

This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included that are easy to follow and error free. Though things are limited range wise, this is still a pretty good audio mix that sounds balanced, dialog comes through clearly and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented .

Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (1 minute 34 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles) and a ‘Making of’ featurette (23 minutes 4 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles). The ‘Making of’ featurette is mostly made up of onset footage, with a few comments from the cast about their involvement in the film. Overall Gurozuka gets a strong release from Synapse Films.

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