Horror, Slasher

Gurozuka (2005)

0 Comments 11 January 2012

Studio: Synapse
Theatrical Release: Oct. 22nd, 2005
DVD Release: Jan. 10th, 2011
Rating: Unrated!
Review by Craig Sorensen








Six young girls and their chaperone head deep into the woods to an abandoned house to shoot a student film for their school’ s film club.  When they arrive they learn the legend of a previous member of the club that went insane and killed someone in the very house that they are staying in.  It doesn’t take long before girls start disappearing.  Someone isn’t who they say they are, but who is telling the truth?

In my last review I bitched incessantly about the lack of originality in the slasher genre.  Now, I’m not backing down from those statements but Gurozuka does prove that with even a little bit of effort you can still make an entertaining slasher.  The film is kind of a by-the-numbers slasher, hitting all the required plot points in the required order.  The film is sort of similar to the 1983 Canadian slasher “Curtains” (except without John ‘fuck an iceberg’ Vernon).  So we’re not in uncharted waters here.

In fact, if you break it down, it’s not that much different than Filth to Ashes, Flesh to Dust.  They both have a group of teenagers in an isolated area being stalked by a killer.  Is one of the kids a killer (or related somehow to the killer)?  They’re even both shot on video.  The difference in execution is the key.  The makers of Gurozuka have actually thought their story out.  There’s a reason they can’t use their cell phones other than ‘oh, I don’t have service here’.  There’s a reason they don’t just go back to their cars and drive away other than ‘I’m an idiot and I didn’t remember that I have a car’ (I really fucking hated Filth to Ashes, Flesh to Dust).  These are pretty superficial things and seem like obvious points to iron out before you start filming.  I’ve seen enough recent slashers to know that this is not something you can take for granted these days.  So for those reasons alone Gurozuka stands above the rest.

Gurozuka also has a novel killer.  Dressed in a traditional Noh mask and kimono the killer certainly has a unique look.  Part of me really wants to hate the film for that.  I’m just really tired of the ‘killer disguise’.  Everyone has been chasing that Jason Voorhees money for almost thirty years now and it hasn’t gotten any better.  But it works for me here.  Maybe it’s just the exoticness of it.

I do wish that it had more of a tie to the actual Noh lore though.  The killings are kind of tied to it I guess (Noh plays come in five different categories).  It kind of feels shoehorned in though.  The point of the mask in Noh plays is to hide the fact that all the players are male.  So to get a female character in the play the actor would need to wear a female mask.  This, to me, would seem to set up a kind of Sleepaway Camp kind of twist.  That never happens though.  At the very least you would assume that the film would play with gender a bit.  Maybe it’s better for the filmmakers not to overstep their bounds.

Gurozuka gets a nice package from Synapse.  The film looks to be shot on video but looks good here so don’t let that stop you from seeing this.  It’s presented in it’s original aspect ratio of 1.78:1.  Color and black levels look pretty good to me and I have no complaints at all.  Sound is the original Japanese in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.  Everything sounded great to me.  Dialog comes through clear and the music sounds good so I’m pretty happy.  You also get optional English subtitles in case you can’t speak Japanese (I’m assuming most of you don’t).  The only extras are the original theatrical trailer and a short making-of doc.

- who has written 151 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

Craig hails from 'Parts Unknown'.

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