STARE aka SHIRAISAN (2019) Reviews and overview

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Stare aka Shiraisan is a 2019 Japanese supernatural horror feature film revolving around the mysterious deaths of victims whose eyes have literally exploded.

Written and directed by Hirotaka Adachi [as Otsuichi] (Tokyo Novel), the movie stars Marie Iitoyo (The Dark Maidens; Ghostly Girl series), Yu Inaba and Shota Sometani.


The dead are accumulating at a rate that’s alarming, and the state in which the victims are discovered is even more so. They’ve all died of a heart attack visibly provoked by extreme fear, and their eyes have literally exploded. Mizuki witnessed the death of her friend. Haruo lost her brother in nebulous circumstances.

The two students seek to understand the cause of this slaughter, and their investigation leads them to Eiko, who says she knows the origins of this mystery. Unfortunately, she dies under similar circumstances, but with her last breath, she mentions the name Shirai-san. This troubling story draws the attention of Mamiya, a journalist who decides to join Mizuki and Haruo in unravelling Shirai-san’s curse…


“People that always poke holes in the curses present in movies like It Follows should get a kick out of this. However, the movie also suffers from some silly melodrama, a relationship between the two leads that’s awfully saccharine, and an overly austere (one might even say dull) approach…” Chris Bumbray, Arrow in the Head

“Some of the CGI is a bit much for the kills as the computer-generated blood is hokey and awful-looking, but beyond that, there isn’t much wrong here. With plenty of stellar positives and only a few minor inconveniences to hold it back, Stare really gets some enjoyment out of the setup and premise to make for a rather entertaining effort.” Don Anelli, Asian Movie Pulse

“Despite a few minor tweaks, the addition of gore by way of eye trauma, and a modern polish on an old trope, Stare doesn’t stray far from the J-horror formula introduced by Ringu two decades ago. Every time the narrative seems to take off in an unexpected direction, it settles back into familiarity.” Meagan Navarro, Daily Dead

“This is probably no dumber than the average horror movie, especially in the early stages where nobody has any reason to believe in the supernatural, but you would think that an epidemic of people’s eyes exploding out of nowhere would get people on their guard.” Jay Seaver,

” …better than a lot of J-horror that tries too hard to replicate the wildly successful elements of Ring and Ju-On. All due to the fact Adachi peppers his screenplay with intelligent thoughts about folklore and urban legends, plus the disturbing social aspect of how they create genuine fear in people.” Father Son Holy Gore

Stare has a runtime around an hour and a half, which tends to be a solid sweet spot for this kind of story. Towards the end, I did feel that maybe it was a bit too long, but it wasn’t much. Also, the build-up was similar to some South Korean movies in terms of presenting us with characters before getting more gory.” Nadja Houmoller, Heaven of Horror

“Sure, it is totally nuts, but the Macguffin, the big tricky gimmick, and the final twist are all deviously clever. Adachi (a.k.a. horror writer Otsuichi) executes the horror business with slickly sinister style. Stare is definitely scary, even if when it doesn’t make much sense…” Joe Bendel, J.B. Spins


Stare had its world premiere at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival on July 17, 2019.

Some image credits: Father Son Holy Gore

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