Koji ShiraishiSenritsu Kaiki File KowasugiChika KuboyamaThe Ghosts of Yotsuya
Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi! Preface: True Story of the Ghost of Yotsuya
Medium: film
Year: 2014
Writer/director: Koji Shiraishi
Actor: Shigeo Osako, Chika Kuboyama, Koji Shiraishi
Keywords: Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi, The Ghosts of Yotsuya, ghost, horror, cinema verite
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 70 minutes
Url: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt14745972/
Website category: J-horror
Review date: 5 July 2024
Senritsu File Kowasugi 5
Hmmm. Remember that stuff in the last film that I said was... brave? The surreal special effects, etc. Well, that's all back and it'll be important in later films too. File 04 was huge in this series's mythology and this film builds on it.
In fact, it's arguably a direct sequel. Until now, Kudo and Ichikawa were helping random idiots who'd done something inadvisable, temporarily escaped with their lives and then taken the video footage to our heroes. "Monster of the week", basically. Well, it's slightly different this time. Kudo and Ichikawa themselves are the idiots in trouble. Admittedly they talk to a cursed movie crew that didn't appease Oiwa, but there's a ghost hanging around from the previous film and Ichikawa getting in way over her head.
Furthermore, this film starts with nearly ten minutes of debate on whether to continue making the series at all, given what happened last time. (Ichikawa and Tashiro would have chosen "no", but Kudo's talked himself into "yes".)
This film's monster of the week is different from usual. Yotsuya Kaidan might be Japan's most famous ghost story... and it's 100% fiction. It's a kabuki play that was written in 1825 and became a mega-hit. It's since been adapted into at least thirty films (some of which I've seen), while even famous J-horror films like Ringu and Ju-on have included homages to it. That's not the spooky bit. Like Macbeth (or indeed Kamelion in Doctor Who), there's a superstition about Yotsuya Kaidan's vengeful ghost, Oiwa. There might have been a real Oiwa (died in 1636) and there have since been lots of mysterious accidents and even deaths associated with theatre, film and TV productions of her story. It's taken seriously. When anyone wants to do a production based on Yotsuya Kaidan, they'll pay respect first by visiting her grave or one of her shrines. I absolutely guarantee that Koji Shiraishi did this himself, especially given this film's subject matter. (Even Kudo and Ichikawa themselves do so within the film, which might potentially have overlapped with the actors doing it for real.)
Kudo and Ichikawa meet a filmmaker who didn't bother doing this. Here's what he says... "That's what happens with all movies like this. When you plan to adapt a story about Oiwa, the entire crew has to go through a rite of purification. Oiva was not a major theme in our film, so this time we decided, 'Oh, okay, never mind.' In addition, there were phrases in the film that mocked Oiwa. After that, unpleasant things started happening."
Our heroes recruit a psychic whose personality is similar to Kudo's. That's not a compliment. As for Kudo himself, we learn that he has lockpicking and housebreaking skills and that he's still carrying around that cursed hair tool from the first film, despite learning here of a fresh suicide associated with it. Mind you, he puts his neck on the line here for Ichikawa. Can't take that from him. The guy's either fantastically loyal to his associates or doesn't give a damn about dying. (I reckon it's both.)
Oh, and his decision at the end of this film made me laugh. Good grief, that guy. You could send him to Hell and he'd be trying to sell a DVD of his interview with Satan (which would probably include a punch)...