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Shikoku 
Written by: on October 16th, 2004
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Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1999
Director: Shunichi Nagasaki
Writers: Kunimi Manda, Takenori Sento
Cast: Yui Natsukawa, Michitaka Tsutsui, Chiaki Kuriyama, Toshie Negishi

DVD Released: October 26th, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 101 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS and Dolby Digital stereo
DVD Release: Adness/Ventura
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99

Hinaku (Yui Natsukawa) returns to the island of Shikoku after spending several years in Tokyo. Upon her return she finds out that her childhood friend Sayori (Chiaki Kuriyama) has passed away and that Sayori’s mother grief has lead to her insanity. Strange this start to happen shortly after Hinaku arrives in town and the locals start to blame her. Hinaku with the help of another childhood friend Funiya (Michitaka Tsutsui) soon discovers that Sayori’s mother is on a pilgrimage unlocking the islands 88 temples in reverse order to bring her daughter back to life.

Shikoku relies less on scares and more of character study then you typical horror film. From the opening moments of the film we are introduced to Sayori, Hinako and Funiya a group of friends. Each one of them desperately wants what the other person has and Sayori’s jealously leads to an incident were she tries to drown Hinako. Sayori’s death though never fully explained might have something to do with a séance that happens at the beginning of the film. The rural locations help add to the films atmosphere and the films melancholy score. The film goes for a more natural look as the lighting is kept low key giving it a more realistic look. Shikoku has a few chilling moments like when Sayori appears to Hinako and Funiya even though she is dead. The films central theme poses an interesting question. What would you do? How far would you go to bring a loved one back to life?

The DVD:

Adness presents Shikoku in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1:85:1 aspect ratio. Overall the transfer is very good as colors and flesh tones are solid through out. The image is sharp and grain is kept to a minimum. The transfer at times looks soft like Tomie Rebirth also released by Adness.

This DVD comes with two audio options Japanese DTS and Japanese Dolby Digital stereo. Both audio tracks are free of distortion or hiss and they both make good use the surrounds adding to the films ambient sound design. The DTS has more bite of the two tracks. It is more dynamic in range giving the sub woofer a full work out. English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.

The main extra consists of interviews with Shunichi Nagasaki, Chiaki Kuriyama and Yui Natsukawa. Other extras include a brief behind the scenes featurette for the film. Rounding out the extras is a trailer for Shikoku and trailers for Isola, Inugami and Shadow of the Wraith. The trailers like the other extras are too brief. Japanese horror is in the middle of a renascence that has caught the attention of western audiences tired of Hollywood’s watered down spoon feed teen slasher films.

Shikoku is another quality release from Adness, still this film is an acquired taste that may leave some viewers flat.

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