Review: Reincarnation (AKA Rinne) (2006)

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Reincarnation (known in Japan as Rinne) is a run of the mill horror film in the mold of The Grudge.  It’s no wonder since its director, Takashi Shimizu, also directed that little gem.  Japanese horror had a pretty good run with American audiences with Hollywood remakes of The Grudge and The Ring, among others.  But it soon wore out its welcome with repetitive fare like this.  There’s nothing wrong with Reincarnation that couldn’t be fixed with a better score and a good solid rewrite, but I’m here to review what is, not what could have been.

The story follows Yuka, a young actress who gets cast in a film that tells the story of a real-life mass murder.  A man killed a number of people in a well-known hotel while filming their deaths with a handheld 8mm movie camera.  The crime was so notorious that the hotel shut its doors forever.  The director of the film, a young Takashi Miike wannabe if I’ve ever seen one, takes the cast to the original location to soak up some method vibe and all hell starts to break loose for his ingenue.

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The plot plays like a cross between The Grudge and The Shining, but that isn’t the problem here.  The real issues are the lukewarm performances and the overall lack of scares.  While I appreciate the fact that this is a slow-burn horror film and not a gore fest, it just isn’t frightening.  Visual cliches abound and there’s very little here that we haven’t seen before.

The best bits revolve around the bending of the movie’s timeline.  Yuka jumps back and forth between the time of the actual murders and the set of the film.  That’s interesting but very little is actually done with this conceit.

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Despite its rehashed visual style, the film kept my interest until the last section when the rule book established in the first 3/4 of the movie gets unceremoniously thrown out the window.  The resulting conclusion is confusing and dissatisfying.

Unless you just have to see everything Shimizu produces, this one is not recommended.