Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 7th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2009
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Writer: Daisuke Hosaka
Cast: Yûya Yagira, Ai Maeda, Suzuki Matsuo, Shôichirô Masumoto, Misako Renbutsu, Ryo Katsuji, Erina Mizuno
DVD released: January 31st, 2011
Approximate running time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese, Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Chelsea Films
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £14.99
Synopsis: When someone from their past reemerges. Four friends are forced to come to terms with a event from their childhood.
The Shock Labyrinth was directed by Takashi Shimizu, who is most known for writing and directing the Ju-on series. He also directed the two Hollywood remakes of The Grudge. Content wise The Shock Labyrinth is right in line with Takashi Shimizu other J Horror films. With the twist this time around being the addition of 3-D. In fact the film is touted as Japan’s first 3-D horror film.
From a premise stand point the film has a good foundation. And the opening act does a great job setting things up. Unfortunately once the action shifts towards the four friends, who now find themselves trapped in a amusement park’s house of horrors. The film starts to unravel. And this downward spiral continues its course right on through to a predictable ending.
Besides the aforementioned predictable plot that for the most part just meanders along. Another area in which this film far too often comes up short. It is inability to build suspense and deliver any truly horrific scares.
From a production standpoint the visuals are the one area in which things do gel. For the most part the visuals have a dreamlike / nightmarish duality to them that gives this film some much needed atmosphere. Working with 3-D can be a tricky task and far too often the effect can look forced. And while there are moments that fall into this category in The Shock Labyrinth. For the most part the 3-D effects work really well within the confines of the story.
Performance wise the cast are merely adequate in their respective roles. Some of the blame for the shortcomings of the performances. Should fall on that film’s lack depth and character development. The characters in this film are best viewed as chess pieces that are strategically maneuvered by the director for maximum effect. Ultimately The Shock Labyrinth is a fairly routine J Horror film that relies too heavily on its gimmick 3-D.
Chelsea Films presents The Shock Labyrinth in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. There are no problems with compression or edge enhancement and the image remains stable throughout. Colors and flesh tones look accurate. Black levels look consistently good and details look crisp throughout.
This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in Japanese and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Japanese. Both audio mixes does a great job showcasing the various ambient aspects of the soundtrack. Dialog is always clear, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs to. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (2 minutes 1 second – anamorphic widescreen), Press Conference and Opening Day footage (2 minutes 42 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles), Venice Film Festival footage with director Takashi Shimizu (4 minutes 16 seconds, in English / Japanese with English subtitles), three behind the scenes segments ‘Cast and Crew Fooling Around and Shooting Last Scenes’ (3 minutes 33 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles), ‘The Haunted House and Scary Dummies’ (2 minutes 36 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles) and ‘The Secret of the Stereoscopic Camera’ (3 minutes 23 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles). Rounding out the extras are interviews with director Takashi Shimizu (9 minutes 21 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles), actors Yûya Yagira (2 minutes 32 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles), Ryo Katsuji (3 minutes 36 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles), actresses Ai Maeda (3 minutes 13 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles), Erina Mizuno (3 minutes 21 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles), Misako Renbutsu (4 minutes 2 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles).Even though these behind the scene segments and interviews are far from being all encompassing. There is plenty that can be gleaned from them. Especially the interview with director Takashi Shimizu. Also included with this DVD release is a 3-D version of the that comes with one pair of 3-D glasses. This version comes on its own DVD and the only extra on this DVD is the film’s trailer in 3-D. Overall The Shock Labyrinth gets a strong DVD release from Chelsea Films.