STIGMATIZED PROPERTIES (2020) Reviews of Japanese haunted houses movie

 

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Stigmatized Properties is a 2020 Japanese horror film about an unpopular comedian who agrees to stay in houses that are allegedly haunted.

Directed by Hideo Nakata (Sadako 2019; Ghost Theater; The Ring Two 2005; Dark Water; Ring 1998) from a screenplay written by Burajiriî An Yamada based on a novel by Tanishi Matsubara. Produced by Shuhei Akita. The movie stars Kazuya Kamenashi, Nao Honda and Kôji Seto.

Plot:

Yamame Yamano (Kazuya Kamenashi) is an unpopular comedian. The boss at a TV station informs him that if agrees to stay in an allegedly haunted house he might save his floundering career. The show is a surprise success and so Yamame Yamano begins to stay in “stigmatized properties”. And so he begins to experience various unnatural phenomena…

Review:

So if anyone could make an awesome horror movie, it would be the director of Dark Water and The Ring, surely… right? Surely the appeal of this movie is the fact that one of the greatest J-horror directors of all time is taking on the concept of the haunted Japanese house. Or, as they’re known: Stigmatized Properties.

Yamame and Nakai are a comedy duo called Jonathans, but their latest show is a failure, eliciting a chuckle from only one audience member, a fangirl named Kosaka. When Nakai wants to split up the duo to pursue a TV writing career, Yamame is left with nothing until the TV station director decides, on the spot, he wants Yamame to spend some time in a haunted apartment and document the results.

With the help of Nakai and Kosaka, who coincidentally gets a job at the same TV station at the same time as a make-up assistant, he encounters and documents a spirit, and the show is an instant success. This leads him to rent out more haunted apartments, but it comes at a cost. An evil spirit has latched onto him, having an effect on his physical and mental health.

Seriously, it’s a great idea. haunted Japanese houses make for fun J-horror movies, right? So then, what’s the issue with this film? Personally, for me, it was the fact that the movie couldn’t decide if it was a horror movie with comedy elements or a comedy movie with horror elements. And in the end, the muddled mixing of genres has had a negative effect on what ended up on the screen.

For the most part, I found the story fairly interesting. I appreciate that the writer and director resisted the urge to make a “haunted house reality TV” style movie with that found footage-type trope, but instead created a proper narrative, only using the haunted houses as backdrops to allow the scary elements to occur.

But there is nothing scary in this film. And the over-acting from lead actress Nao, who plays Nokasa ruins any scary scene she is in, where her scared reactions look completely out of place in a film like this. She’s tried to make it more suitable for her character by playing her as being very shy and timid, thus it looks like she gets scared easily. But then, on the other hand, she’s a character who has the ability to see ghosts and spirits, so why does she get so scared every time it seems to happen?

And while the performance of Kazuya Kamenashi as Yamame is debatable, there is a character I really loved, and even though she was another over-acted character, I really enjoyed every scene she was in. And that’s the excellent and super creepy real estate agent Yokomizu. There’s just something unique and appealing about her character, and I especially loved the scene where she was providing apartment options to Yamame in Tokyo, and she had a special apartment for him hidden in her mini shrine. More characters like her in movies would be most welcomed.

It was also nice to see Mao, from One Cut of the Dead, in the film as the TV director’s assistant.

But that’s about all I enjoyed about this film. A handful of characters and a plot premise. But the awkwardness of the way the scenes play out, the frustrating relationship early on between Kosaka and Yamame, the average looking special effects especially with the final evil spirit and the general length of the movie really work against it. I was really, really excepting far too much from this film considering the pedigree and the real lack of decent horror movies from Japan recently.

The Arty Dans, guest reviewer via Asian Film Fans

Other reviews:

“From the legendary horror director, Hideo Nakata comes an utter flop of a horror story centred around haunted houses. While the basic concept of the film is not altogether awful, the execution leaves a lot to be desired and rather than delivering genre-defining thrills, it only offers a few mildly entertaining segments with a whole lot of filler in between.” Horror News

” …the film is based on the real-life experiences of Tanishi Matsubara, a comic who has made a career of living in “stigmatized properties” — apartments where sad and terrible things happened, suicide and murder among them. But the reality of the paranormal phenomena Matsubara presents to his audience is, shall we say, open to question. The film hypes its otherworldly entities even further, to the limits of credibility and beyond.” The Japan Times

“What made Dark Water and The Ring so effective was that the ghoul was the co-protagonist as well as intelligent and malicious. Here, the spirits are introduced, explained, then dealt with in cursory fashion […] Nakata’s deft touch can be seen in the supporting characters, such as Yamame’s smarmy, ratings-driven boss, but that is not enough to lift this work.” The Straits Times

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Original title:

事故物件 恐い間取り aka Jiko Bukken: Kowai Madori

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