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25 Apr 2012


POV may lack true scares but it is the New Nightmare of Japanese horror.

Original Title: POV: 呪われたフィルム

Director: Norio Tsuruta

Language: Japanese

Screenplay: Norio Tsuruta

Cast: Mirai Shida, Haruna Kawaguchi

What’s the surest sign that the horror genre has reached a plateau and come up against a wall in Japan? Norio Tsuruta, a Japanese master of horror, has made a postmodern horror film. The last time an American master of horror did the same, he stopped writing horror films completely for a decade, leading to a decline in the genre.

Now that's not to say that Wes Craven's New Nightmare or POV are awful films. On the contrary – there is a lot of highly literate playfulness in how both films deconstruct and reconstruct the horror genre.

In POV, Norio Tsuruta one-ups the awful sub-genre of faux found footage horror. His gimmick is pure genius – make a found footage horror where the actors are cast as themselves. Let's get this clear – in this found footage horror film, the main characters are real-life teen celebrity idols Mirai Shida and Haruna Kawaguchi.

Where a Hollywood found footage horror will labour mostly ineffectually to sell the idea that the characters are real living people, Tsuruta's gimmick eliminates the problem cleanly. And where a Hollywood found footage horror will engineer a long string of improbably coincidences and plot developments to lead its protagonists to their peril, POV hits the floor running by having our teen idols host a scary Japanese TV talk show debunking faked videos of ghosts... And the rest is pure formula.

As clever and subversive POV may be, its greatest weakness is its lack of real and effective scares. We'll put that down to Mirai's young pre-teen fan base.


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