DVD Movie Review | Reincarnation (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 01.01.2017

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Reincarnation (UK Rating: 18)

Any real horror fans will tell you that quality horror isn't made in Hollywood anymore. Fear has been replaced with jump scares, and splatter movies have been reduced to torture porn. The best horror now comes from the creeping dread of the Asian scene that stays with the viewer long after the movie, keeping them up at night, or the smart horror of Europe that keeps the stories fresh and original. Thanks to (the sadly now defunct) Tartan Asia, some of the best horror from the East reached UK shores. From the mind of acclaimed horror director, Takashi Shimizu, comes the tale of Reincarnation.

Even those not familiar with the name Takashi Shimizu will at least be familiar with his creations. He is credited with The Grudge and its sequel, both of which are so renowned that they even received Western adaptations. After the success of these, at the behest of producer Takashige Ichise, Shimizu went on to develop one of the six entries in the J-Horror Collection (as it was known in the UK). This was a gathering of six of the best horror/thriller directors, with the plan to release one movie from each.

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Sadly, after the first three - Infection (2004), Premonition (2004), and Reincarnation (2006) - interest seemed to have faded, and by the time Retribution and Kaidan were released in 2007, it seemed like they were no longer under the umbrella name, until a few years later, when The Ring's Hiroshi Takahashi and the man that kicked off the project in the first place, Ichise, released Kyofu. This sixth, and final, entry went back to being promoted as the J-Horror Theater series (the Japanese moniker, as the movies had long since been dropped in the West, following Tartan's closure). It was hyped up by listing the previous five movies, thus ending years of speculation.

Cubed3 recently reviewed Premonition, but is Reincarnation, officially released in 2006, just as good?

Reincarnation follows a budding young actress, Nagisa Sugiura, as she auditions for, and eventually takes part in, a movie based upon a real life tragedy. That tragedy saw an insane professor take a knife and a video camera to a local hotel and proceed to slaughter numerous people there, all on film - men, women, and children. No-one was safe. Back to the present day and the restless dead don't particularly appreciate their slaughter being made into a movie and phantasmal versions of the victims begin to stalk people in town.

The film's major theme is, suitably, reincarnation, as Nagisa begins to recall memories from a past life, taking her back to the day of the tragedy. She begins to believe the part she has won in the movie - that of a small girl who was murdered - was actually her past life. Soon enough, Nagisa sees that little girl following her everywhere, or if it's not the spirit of this little girl, it's her creepy stop-motion doll, which repeatedly utters the same line "Together Forever."


 
The doll, and some other set pieces, is where the film works best, as Shimizu showcases his talent for creepy sequences, and there are a handful of instances here that stand alongside some of his best work; subtle moments where he blends the use of stark scenes with slow movement, building the tension without needing a jump scare, instead slowly revealing the terrifying truth to the audience. Shimizu also has some great cinematic moments blending together past and present. In particular, there is a moment where three points of view are overlaid as Nagisa acts out escaping the murderer while the footage of the actual murder is being shown elsewhere on an 8mm, and spliced between are Nagisa's memories and the phantasms of the victims. It's fantastically shot.

The problem with Reincarnation, though, is that these moments are few and far between in the film, and it ends up feeling like they had a great idea for the premise but couldn't fill the 90 minutes. Instead there's a great deal of wasted time filled with frankly dull moments.  

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

While Reincarnation has some interesting aspects stemming from its premise, and some truly chilling sequences, it also has a story that develops at a snail's pace. There is too much exposition and too many pointless scenes, resulting in a film that, as a whole, falls completely flat. Even the smart twist at the end of the movie is not enough to redeem this from being a rather bland and monotonous affair.

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