Shigeo OsakoKoji ShiraishiChika KuboyamaSenritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi
Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi File 04: The Truth! Hanako-san in the toilet
Medium: film
Year: 2013
Writer/director: Koji Shiraishi
Actor: Shigeo Osako, Chika Kuboyama, Koji Shiraishi, Hitomi Kurihara, Rie Kuwana
Keywords: Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi, ghost, horror, cinema verite
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 73 minutes
Website category: J-horror
Review date: 4 July 2024
Senritsu File Kowasugi 4
It's absolutely not a failure, but it's less successful than the last two films in this series. The problem (for me) is that its plot is timey-wimey, which knocked me into Moffat-trained SF-watching mode and changed the way I read it. It's less scary. Also, the spooky-but-odd visuals slightly undermine the series's realistic tone, then later shatter it into matchsticks as if they'd hired Terry Gilliam to do his animations from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
It is, though, different. It's Fortean in surprising ways and it has a HOLY SHIT ending. I'm glad I watched this and it's not a dead loss at all. So... Hanako. Do you know her? Here's how the film describes her to us:
'Hanako of the Toilet. An urban legend walking around in different schools. On the third floor of the school, in an empty bathroom, knock on the closest stall and ask, "Hanako, are you there?" Someone will say "yes" from stall three. The door will open. A girl with an 'okappa' haircut, a white shirt and red dress will appear and pull you into the bathroom. Similar Hanako stories exist all over Japan. There has been belief in a toilet goddess since pre-war times. She was worshipped by sacrificing red and white dolls and flowers in toilets. Hanako's image is said to have come from this belief and some say that it's not really Hanako, but that goddess.'
This didn't sound scary to me... but what if Hanako followed you home? That would be more unsettling. Then we discover that the slumped body on the floor isn't even Hanako, but something worse.
Kudo and Ichikawa recruit a psychic. Her name's Shiori Makabe and she's a calm, authoritative lady who says disturbing and occasionally incomprehensible things. She can explain when time and space go strange in the haunted school.
The film's pretty crazy. You can't accuse Koji Shiraishi of playing safe, or of lacking ambition. I hadn't been expecting the backstory between Erie and Nana, but I'm not judging. If it works for them... The series has also started building towards something, with a recurring element from the second film that even now I don't understand. This is one of the weaker Kowasugi films, but saying so is arguably unfair since it's stranger and more interesting than you'd expect. I'd still recommend it.