DVD Movie Review: Temple

By Thom Compton 04.11.2017

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Temple (UK Rating: 15)

In case you weren't aware, Japan is apparently the most haunted place in the world. If a group of Americans want to get violently murdered, though, films have convinced viewers that they must go to Eastern Europe. If they want to get haunted and scared out of their overalls, though, they go to Japan. Of course, none of this is, in practice, all that accurate, but it doesn't stop filmmakers from mining the caustic mixture of mythology and xenophobia to continue to patronise people worldwide. Temple - out now on DVD in the UK via Thunderbird Releasing - manages to not only commit the sin of "Oh wow, look how scary it is when Americans leave America," but manages to be terrible in literally every other aspect of its production.

The film focuses on Kate, a young student studying religion who decides to head to Japan to study some aspects of it there, specifically the temples. Why, you may ask? Oh, because it's a ridiculously simple plot device. Viewers meet her as she introduces herself (and her camera - this is from the writer of Blair Witch and V/H/S, after all) and then begins to share a tremendous amount of information about her friend, Chris. Chris, as it turns out, is her "deep in the friend zone" friend, or at least that's what the movie would like the audience to believe… because - and tell the trumpeters they can sit this one out - here comes James!

James is Kate's boyfriend, and as is traditional in this kind of film, he's a sleaze. Chris catches onto this early, but never, at any point, makes mention of it to Kate. No, Chris is far too busy making friends with a young boy. A young boy who, not to spoil anything, gives way to a plot twist so fatuous it is genuinely impressive. That the producer of The Ring and writer of Blair Witch had the confidence to inject the ending of this film in, and then play it out like viewers should have been surprised, is so remarkably incredulous, it's astounding. Shortly after revealing this twist, the movie immediately jumps into another twist that, quite frankly, turns what little there was to like about this film into ash.

Of all of the characters, again, Chris is by far the worst. He gets the brunt of the screen time, despite the film teasing that Kate may be the lead. She wouldn't have been all that much better, but better she would have been. Chris is the so-called worldly one, very sympathetic, and to Kate and James' benefit, he speaks Japanese. However, he's largely a shell of a character, unlike Kate and James. They at least feel like real people, although that's the best compliment they can receive, honestly.

The scares almost have potential, but they give way to either cheap jump scares, or false starts that are more infuriating then they are chilling. Characters spend most of the movie making terrible decisions that make so little sense you almost want to see how they play out. It becomes a game of "Jump That Logic" - so ridiculous and obtuse that by the end of it, you may very well have a headache. Furthermore, Temple eventually introduces monsters, all of which look cheap and remarkably not scary. Literally everyone the group meets has something crazy to say about this temple, but at no point do they mention the Jim Henson rough draft monster or ghosts that look like bad guys from a long lost '80s toothpaste advertisement.

All of this is framed around an interrogation, which ultimately leads to nothing, aside from an annoying "Who is it?" game the audience gets to play between interrogation breaks. This isn't really loaded with any great ideas to begin with, but it manages to squander all of them. This is baffling considering the talent involved, at least behind the lens. The actors don't seem to have been given any real time to get to know their characters, or they are as bored as the rest of those that pick this up. Really, the biggest failure of Temple is that it's hard to like anyone, regardless of what they are doing, which is why the very final shot makes so much sense. It never explains what happens to Kate, and frankly, it's hard to imagine anyone cares.

Rated 1 out of 10


Imagine for a second a film is made that manages to encapsulate perfect cinema. All bad character decisions, terrible plot points, cheesy and nonsensical monsters, and bad writing are thrown out the window. Now imagine someone went outside that window, picked up all of those pieces and made a movie. That Frankenstein's monster would be Temple, and hopefully the village can burn it down quickly.

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