Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Film: The Shock Labyrinth 3D
UK Release date: Tbc
Year: 2009
Certificate: 15
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Starring: Ai Maeda, Yuya Yagira, Suzuki Matsuo, Ryo Katsuji, Misako Renbutsu
Running time: 99 mins
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Country: Japan
Subtitles: English
Reviewer: Adam Wing

From master of horror Shimizu Takashi (Ju-on) comes The Shock Labyrinth, the latest frightener to jump on the superfluous 3D bandwagon. Which can mean only one thing; it’s time to put the paracetamol on standby because we’re in for a bumpy ride. Don’t forget to close the curtains, not because it adds to the mood of the piece, but because you really don’t want to be seen in those ridiculous cardboard glasses. You know the ones, they make your head spin faster than a  fairground ride and drain the colour from your TV screen. Thankfully, Well Go USA Entertainment has including both the 2D and 3D version of the film in the Blu-ray release, which is something of a blessing it has to be said. Temptation is bound to get the better of you though; it is a film designed for 3D viewing after all. Just keep telling yourself that you look like Neo, that should soften the blow.

The Shock Labyrinth follows a group of teenagers coming to terms with the disappearance of their friend Yuki at an amusement park ghost house. Ten years later, Yuki inexplicably returns. However, just as she is being reunited with her former friends she collapses, and the group are forced to rush her to a nearby hospital. After checking in, they discover that things are not quite what they seem. As the night wears on, our protagonists sink deeper and deeper into the terrifying events that first led to Yuki’s disappearance. The Shock Labyrinth is Japan's first 3D digital film, inspired by Fuji-Q High Land's famous "Labyrinth of Horrors" haunted house ride. Yagira Yuya (Nobody Knows), Maeda Ai (The Sword of Alexander), Renbutsu Misako and Katsuji Ryo race against time, attempting to avoid the customary pitfalls of modern horror along the way - not to mention an ominous floating rabbit.

I’m a big fan of Shimizu Takashi’s Ju-on series, in particular the second instalment. Even the Hollywood remake proved an entertaining ride, but the less said about the loathsome sequels the better. It’s nice to see that Shimizu has stepped away from the faltering franchise, even if this watered down retread wasn’t what I had in mind. The Shock Labyrinth should’ve been a blast from start to finish, but Shimizu has dropped the ball big time. It takes a little time to get your head around the plot, and when you do you’ll soon discover that there’s nothing new to see here. The Ju-on helmer attempts to hide the absence of plot with dreamlike imagery, but the resultant fog fails to mask the absurdity of it all. Uninspired flashbacks blend with present day goings-on but none of it makes for satisfactory viewing.

The grown up characters are annoyingly shallow, lacking both depth and common sense. Much of the first hour is spent wandering through corridors, blaming each other for what has happened. One of the main characters is blind, an opportunity wasted by the one time hope of Japanese horror, who wilfully ignores the opportunity for invention and chooses instead to focus on relentless whining. It’s a soulless affair from start to finish, one that manages to commit the biggest crime of all when it comes to horror. 

The Shock Labyrinth might be found wanting in terms of creativity - which is bad enough in itself - but when a horror movie forgets to be scary you know you’re in trouble. Takashi makes no attempt at creating tension or anything approaching genuine thrills. There’s the occasional tingle - a sinister rabbit backpack floating through walls and creepy porcelain statues that come to life midway through - but nothing here lives up to the high expectation born of the Ju-on franchise. We’ve all ready seen the best part in the trailer, where a vengeful lank haired demon emerges from the inside of a drifting rabbit - believe me when I tell you that there’s nothing else to see.

The 3D effects are appealing at first, but that's usually when the head pain kicks in. Feathers floating around your living room are easy on the eye, but the Ju-on creator fails to incorporate any of the 3D technology into his horror show. Probably because he left his bag of frights at home, but you would think that the man behind one of Japan’s most successful horror franchises might have something fresh to say by now. What’s the point of making a 3D film if you’re going to ignore the doorway it opens? I found myself removing the glasses throughout, and not just because I couldn’t see what was going on beyond the mist. For whatever reason, Takashi hides most of the movie behind dense fog and bad lighting. I didn’t watch the 2D version but the only positive I can muster is that you wont feel like you’ve just gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson.

The Shock Labyrinth was a disappointment from start to finish, failing to jolt, surprise and intrigue at every turn. Shimizu Takashi has created a horror movie that forgets to be scary, one that drowns itself in unnecessary 3D and lacks anything approaching invention. At least Piranha 3D had copious amounts of blood, not to mention Kelly Brook naked. It pains me to say it but watching The Shock Labyrinth in my cheap cardboard glasses, it soon became clear where to find the biggest tit – that’ll be the one fidgeting on the sofa wishing he’d watched Piranha 3D (Kelly Brook) instead.

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