Friday, October 14, 2011

Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night

"Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night" is an independent Japanese film that is a sequel to "Paranormal Activity" that was released in November 2010. Unfortunately it came out the same year as "Paranormal Activity 2" did in the United States and did not receive the attention it rightfully deserves.

Shortly after she returns home strange things start to occur during the middle of the night. Haruka's wheelchair moves by itself.

Kiochi places a mound of salt in her room to drive off the spirit. 

The salt is scattered across the floor. The videotape reveals an invisible force blowing it away.
Haruka's friends visits her along with their psychic friend Misuzu who can see spirits. Misuzu visits Haruka's room, stands there for a bit, then leaves without saying a word. She returns to the living room, before announcing that she didn't know what it was that she saw. She is then spiritually attacked and runs out of the house screaming.

Koichi calls a Shinto priest to come and cleanse their home of evil. The priest performs a ceremony, then declares that the presence has been calmed and will no longer harm them. The priest is then killed by the demon.

Koichi tries to convince her to leave the house with him, but she refuses. It is then that Haruka reveals that she was involved in a car accident with Katie--the woman from the first "Paranormal Activity" movie--who was on the run after being possessed by a demon that made her kill her boyfriend Micah. And that Katie was killed in the accident.

Koichi helps her back to bed, places a wooden cross in her hand and goes to make her breakfast. The cross is pulled from her hand and lands on the floor. All of her windows start to break as the cross is dragged across the floor. Then, it spontaneously sets on fire. Which is pretty darn cool.

Then everything goes to hell, literally. We watch Haruka stagger out of bed, jerkily walking on her broken legs (ouch!) thumping terribly as she slowly, step by step, leaves and enters her brother's room. She stands over him for two hours, slowly wavering on broken legs, then heads downstairs.

And screams.

Koichi runs downstairs, searching frantically for her, only to find dear old dad dead in the closet. (Oh Noes!) Haruka suddenly appears behind him, hits hard enough to knock him down, then throws him at the camera in his room upstairs.

He gets up as she begins to crawl towards him, long black hair hanging down in her face in typical J-horror fashion, and he freaks and runs out of the house and snags a taxi. He tells him to just drive and sits there, scared out of his mind in the back seat, when suddenly, Haruka appears standing in the road, and the cab hits her and runs into a wall.

The next scene is in the morgue, where Koichi is asked to identify a body and is for some strange reason, left all alone in a room with a corpse. He slowly pulls off the sheet and to his horror, he reveals the taxi driver's face, not his sister's. Then, he is dragged away from the camera screaming. Shortly after Haruka appears, walking towards the camera, staring up at it with blank eyes that roll up into her head.

This movie features some Japanese culture Horror Elements that revolve around the Shinto Religion.

  • Koichi uses salt to ward off an evil spirit.
  • In many folk beliefs, salt is a pure element that can repel evil spirits.

Shinto Religion

  • They call a Shinto priest who comes and sets up a small shrine before performing a house cleansing ceremony.

Japanese Ghosts/Evil Spirits
  • Haruka's wheelchair moves up to the camera which causes the video feed gets static from interference and then cuts out.
  • The stereo starts blaring, playing by itself at top volume and when Koichi approaches it, the sound turns into static.
  • Japanese ghosts can manipulate electronics and in some J-horror can possess them or live inside of them, such as the cursed video in "Ring" directed by Hideo Nakata.

The Good

The main characters are interesting and the actors are good at convincing you that they are brother and sister in their interactions. They seem to have a normal brother-sister relationship, and they have personalities that aren't insufferable nor as grating, which makes it easy for you to sympathize with them.

People's reactions to the movie's events as they unfold are believable.

The integration of J-horror movie themes is a refreshing take on the “Paranormal Activity” plot line.

The Bad

As far as shaky cam hell goes, it wasn't nearly as bad as the original "Paranormal Activity" and the director, thankfully, kept it to a minimum.

Although it was entertaining, it truly wasn't that scary of a movie. The director had to depend on cheap stage tricks and use a sub-sonic sound during the "scary parts" that is unnerving to most people. Pay attention to horror films of this type and listen for the low bass-like hum that is sort of similar to a large fan droning in the distance.

This sort of sound manipulation is common in these types of films, as it triggers a fear response in your brain and makes you feel uneasy and tense. Which is a pity. When suspense in a horror film is done right, a director can create feelings of fear and dread in the audience without resorting to such a dirty trick.

Overall, "Paranormal Activity: Tokyo Night" is an entertaining, and scary  movie, with some very tense possession sequences and creepy ghost phenomena.

If you love J-horror or any of the "Paranormal Activity" movies, you'll love this one! 

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