Tormented aka Rabitto Hora (The Rabbit Horror) 3D (2011) Japan
Silly movie reviewer, don't you know that foreign horror is for those who can concentrate and get the 'hidden' meaning of a movie? Tsk, tsk. And you can barely keep it together for a dumb slasher film. This Japanese film is one of those 'nesting dolls' types of film - it's this then the layer is taken off then it's another then another layer is... well, you get the idea. This is one of the few films I wish I could have seen in 3D - there was a spiral staircase scene that Hitchcock would have sold his soul for and to see the scene coming at me would have been sweet.
But as it was this was a great idea executed with some style but, as with a lot of movies, it 'ends' a half hour before the credits actually roll. It's like they have a script, shoot it, then say 'Damn, I've got 24 minutes left before I have a full length movie. Umm... go back to the cutting floor, we've gotta have something to plaster into this movie'. That makes for a freaky and hard to understand WTH are you looking at kind of movie. The movie was shot in 3D by an Australian cinematographer who usually works on Chinese films (he grew up in Taipei so yeah, he's Chinese too) and has never done 3D before. As I didn't see it in 3D I can't tell you if he did a good job or not, but even in 2D it looked pretty damn good.
To make the story as clear as I can, this is about Kiriko, a mute girl who takes care of her baby half-brother while their father works on children's pop up books. It's The Little Mermaid, the REAL story, not the sugary Disney version. In the original version, the mermaid was to kill the prince in order to regain her voice but was unable and so dissolved in the sea. What does that have to do with the movie? Well, they try to incorporate a lot of the ideas into the story, not always successfully.
We start with the very disgusting and horrific image of a white rabbit that is horribly injured (they don't say why or how) in a pen with other rabbits. Kiriko's brother Daigo decides to put the rabbit out of its misery with a brick (nice splatter on him and his sister). Ick. Anyway, her brother Daigo's birthday is coming up and again her father has forgotten but she hasn't. She's given him a gift of pressed flowers every birthday - this will be his 10th.
She takes him to a 3D movie (very very clever - we get to see the typical woman-with-a-grudge-and-long-slimy-black-hair and teenagers you hope die quick in a haunted hospital movie within this thing) and while they're watching, a stuffed white rabbit floats very slowly out from the movie screen. Diego catches it and before anyone notices, stuffs it in his school bag.
From there I don't know if the movie makers were trying for a Hitchcockian theme, an Asian try at Donny Darko, or another type of mind screw because the story goes all over the place. I guess it's supposed to, in keeping with the nightmare type theme of, uh, well, a WTH story (watch this and you'll repeat that a LOT). Since I'm both cynical and getting used to these horror outings quite well I had most of the story guessed not too far in. But I was still surprised by some of the plot - and the fact that when the movie 'ended', it wasn't over.
So we go into this nightmare of back and forth between fantasy and reality and we have to put up with it in order to find out the real story - after Daigo finds a full size rabbit in his closet, the rabbit drags him to a fairground. When Kiriko follows, the whole group ends up at an (Oh c'mon, WTH?) abandoned hospital. Sigh. We then see scenes of a screaming bloody woman being rushed through the hospital by attendants that look like marionettes (that actually was pretty neat). And we're still going WTH? 'Cause next we're on the merry-go-round where Kiriko is now little and her 'new' mommy sitting on the horse beside her screams and bleeds and we see Daigo born. Maybe. Little by little we get the, uh, real story I guess.
Kiriko's mother died when she was young (in the East and children's stories, it never pays to be a mother) and so one day her father brings pregnant Kyoko home. Kiriko, being young and selfish, hates that she has a new mother and does everything a kid will do to make her feel unwelcome. And then we get the merry-go-round scene again. And the marionette hospital scene. Sheesh. And what the hell is up with long black hair? Put simply ('cause I'm not smart enough to make it difficult), in Kabuki and Noh Theater, the specter of a long black haired woman is a common theme especially when it comes to grudges, revenge, domestic violence, and just plain ghost scares. 'Kay.
So FINALLY after a lot of nightmarish imagery with stuffed rabbits (I will NEVER bring one in the house) we get to the REAL REAL REAL story: Kiriko did have a new pregnant mommy, but she hemorrhaged while on the.. ah skip it. Point being she died and there never WAS a little brother. That caused Kiriko to go into her own little world, where the toy rabbit Kyoko gave her became her brother and she lost her voice. She apparently was hospitalized for it and was supposed to be better but ten years later, still no voice and now this. Her father has no choice but to have her hospitalized again. The end.
AHA got you! We've still got a half hour to go suckers! Okay, what can they make up to go in here.... Okay, it's a month later, right? Kiriko pretty much has her mind back (just no voice) and now it's dad who's losing it (he didn't look like he had it together to begin with). He wanders off and now it's Kiriko's turn to be the sane one. Um, nope.
We get this very weird scene of Kiriko running to the amusement park, and finding the abandoned hospital, recognizing it where they took her step-mother. She goes in and we get another cool scene with the spiral staircase, which she is running up to catch Daigo who has the rabbit. Why? I have NO FREAKING IDEA. And then we get more head scratching fun. Inside the bunny is a silver dagger and for her to get her 'voice' back she has to stab the 'prince' (her brother/stuffed rabbit). Of course she is stabbing herself and falls down down down that staircase, screaming (yay she has her voice - oh wait) SPLAT! And this was a good splat too - would've been a great 3D shot.
Our last scene is the dad wrapped in a blanket sitting on a bench outside the hospital (No I am NOT going to try to explain that one.). Daigo comes out and takes his hand and they walk off. The end. I'm not kidding this time.
Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.