Shinya Tsukamoto, Tomomi Miyashita
Let's not kid ourselves - a lot of Asian horror is focused
on ghosts and hauntings. So much of it, in fact, that most
movies can boil down to one influence or another. So when
a movie comes around that finds a nice idea, it's well worth
the time to watch. Such is Marebito, a dark trip into
fear where the main character runs into blood feeding underground
As a video journalist, Masuoka starts on his dark path when
he videotapes a man who kills himself by stabbing out his
eye. It's the mortal fear in his eyes that makes the Masuoka
search for what would cause a man to want to kill himself.
In his hunt for the ultimate terror, he ends up finding an
underground world, where he runs into the dead man. This begins
a conversation where the dead man tells him about the dark
underground world, filled with fearful vagrants and blood
fiends, known as Deros. This conversation offers possibilities
that unfortunately never go anywhere. As the main character
continues his investigation, he finds a Lovecraftian underground
city, pulled straight from At the Mountains of Madness.
It's in this cyclopean city he finds the naked body of a
young girl, who is chained to a wall. After he takes the girl
back to his apartment, he tries to get her to speak or eat,
but she's so feral that he fears she may die. After run-ins
with a dark entity, he discovers that she desires blood for
nourishment. To satiate her, he eventually begins killing
people and brings her their blood.
Marebito features a lot of internal dialogue from
the main character. In fact a lot of the story it told through
his thoughts. This is especially necessary when the only other
character with screen time is pretty much mute. Additional
characters prove to be garnish to the story, passing through
to add to the story or give purpose to the devices to the
When the endgame of the movie begins to play out, it has
some interesting twists that almost feel unrealized. It's
as if they get mentioned in passing, but we're lead to believe
that they might not be true. The actual ending is a bit weird,
even for the genre, but it fits with the odd path that the
Special effects are really kept to a minimum. There's some
stage blood here and there, but the Deros are barely on screen
long enough to give the viewer an idea of what they look like.
Some of the locations are effectively dark and dank and the
underground city is obviously a painting, but it looks good
all the same.
As said throughout the review, the problem with Marebito
is that there's so much that can be done here that when none
of it is actually realized, it feels like one long tease.
I feel let down that so many interesting ideas and locations
are introduced early on, because they're never revisited beyond
a minor passing effort. It's a shame that so much potential
If you're looking for a different offering in the Asian horror
genre, Marebito is certainly worth a rental. It proves
to be a bit weird, but the overall mood and execution is well
done. If the better parts of the script had been handled differently
and expanded, I would say that this could have really stood
out in the genre.