May 7, 2012

Filthy Review - Shock Labyrinth 3D

Shock Labyrinth 3D (2009)

Review by Jude Felton

Director Takashi Shimizu is probably best known for Ju-on and it’s follow-up Ju-on 2; two movies that are in my opinion second only to the Ring series in terms of popularity when it comes to Asian horror. He also, rather misguidedly, directed the quite atrocious Western remakes, The Grudge and The Grudge 2, which managed to remove any of the tension and creepiness from what were two very good films. It’s not a case of them being remakes; it’s a case of them being bad films. However, moving on, we now have Shimuzu’s latest stateside release, and Japan’s first 3D horror film, in Shock Labyrinth 3D, or The Shock Labyrinth depending on where you look.

The film was actually made back in 2009, but is only now finally seeing a U.S. release thanks to Well Go USA, and was a film I was actually quite looking forward to seeing. Japanese horror seemed to me to having been surpassed, to some degree, by the emergence of the more consistent output from Korea, and quite truthfully I was looking forward to some good old-fashioned spooky J-horror.

Before I delve too much into the movie I will just preface this by saying that I watched to 2D Blu-ray version of the movie. This release does actually come with a 2D DVD and the 3D Blu-ray version, alas I do not have the technology to watch the 3D version, although there is some small mercy in that, as I really don’t enjoy 3D movies all that much.

The story concerns a group of friends who have not seen each other in 10 years, who finally do re-unite. One of them had ended up going missing when they were kids, but has miraculously returned to rejoin the group. Their joy, however, is short-lived as an accident necessitates their taking their estranged friend to hospital. Upon arriving there though it becomes apparent that all is not right; there is no-one there for a start. Then, before you can shake a floating bunny, she goes missing again, which begins a hunt around the spooky hospital.

Of course, the story isn’t as straightforward as a bunch of kids running around a hospital. Instead the film jumps back and forth in time to flesh out the story; which at first is a little disorientating, although I soon got used to it.

Visually the film does look very nice on Blu, with the images being crystal clear, and when the special effects work well they look really good. On the flipside there is the odd moment where technology seemed to let Shimizu down. However, it does have some visually creepy moments the further the film progresses, and at times is almost reminiscent of certain aspects of the Silent Hill videogames; although nowhere near as disturbing. What is quite apparent with Shock Labyrinth is that the film is geared towards a younger horror audience; the film is after all based on an attraction at a Japanese theme park, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as there is room for all kinds of horror flicks. I only mention this as I would not want you to watch this expecting a full-on adult horror movie; because it isn’t. It is well made, for the most part, it is creepy in places and the cast is solid, but it is almost as though it was made as a test run for 3D horror in Japan. Having watched it in 2D I could still see where the 3D would really come into play (can’t you always), with things flying at the camera and such forth, but the film works nicely enough with just two dimensions.

Hardcore fans of J-horror might be a little disappointed with Shock Labyrinth, but new, younger fans looking for an introduction to it could do a lot worse than to check this out. Takashi Shimuzu actually followed up this movie with Tormented, which is also known as Rabbit Horror 3D, which from what I have seen of it seems to be a follow-up of sorts, even if it is not a direct sequel.

Shock Labyrinth 3D is solid J-horror lite that won’t blow you away, but still manages some cool creepy moments, even when it heads into familiar territory.

Shock Labyrinth 3D is released by Well Go USA on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and DVD on May 8th.

1 comment:

Marc said...

Well - our reviews seem to have the same conclusion, but took a different path to get there. I didn't even think of the Silent Hill comparison, but you're definitely right. I thought there were some real nods to Suspiria in there as well, but didn't come through effectively.