What does it take to fit in? Sometimes the answer is nothing as it seems for this housewife in the latest film from the makers of the insane Tokyo Home Stay Massacre.
Karen Fujimoto is an American woman who has lived in Japan for the past six months after marrying her businessman husband, Noboru. While she has befriended Satsuki Murakami, who speaks really good English, she finds herself still in trouble adapting. She gets ridiculed by her boss, Akiyo Yoshihara at the community center for her having to rely on her husband for everything, even learning Kanji. The language barrier tends to be too much for Karen at times, leaving her stressed out to the max.
When Karen is invited to scout a potential caping ground for kids with Akiyo and Satsuki, Noboru thinks it would be great for Karen to get a chance to fit in. Upon their arrival in a small village that is believed to be protected by a fox spirit, Akiyo convinces the group to play Kokkuri-San, a Japanese variation of Ouija. Soon enough, when Karen is forced to play. The group unwittingly unleashes the spirit, who forces the group of women to kill each other. Karen has found herself in a serious predicament and did not expect that this is how she would have to fit in this way!
Last year’s Tokyo Home Stay Massacre was a wild ride from the debuting Tokyo Bay Films, the Japanese indie outlet founded by Dutch-born producer Wilco C. Rullens and Chinese producer KT Rong. The group has returned for a new film written and directed by Masaya Kato, not to be confused with the actor from Drive and Blood Heat.
Similar to their debut film, the protagonist is an American in Japan who is adjusting to life there. In this case, Ariel Sekiya does a good job in the role of Karen, who is adjusting to Japan after marrying a businessman. However, from the beginning, we see her struggling as she speaks very little Japanese and is not exactly skilled with reading as well. With the exception of Satsuki, played by Miharu Chiba, she seems to be ridiculed by some of the others who surround her, notably Eigi Kododa’s arrogant boss Yoshihara.
For the film’s 78-minute running time, it is just after the 30-minute mark when things start to pick up. After first offending the village where the group goes on a camping trip, a drunken Yoshihara forces Karen and Satsuki to play the Japanese Ouija-esque Kokkuri-San. This is when it gets serious as the spirit forces the group to go Battle Royale against each other through the use of an app. The app allows the “players” to gain access to weapons. However, there is a catch, When the credits run out, the fox spirit arrives and kills the phone owner if they are not dead already. What’s even more the awesome is that we are treated to a “kill countdown” as with each death, a number pops up on screen on how many are left. The final ten minutes add a nice twist to the story and becomes quite shocking!
Ouija Japan is a worthy follow-up to Tokyo Home Stay Massacre from Tokyo Bay Films. This nice meshing of supernatural film and Battle Royale is well done and great to watch…and watch…and watch.
WFG RATING: A
A Tokyo Bay Films/Culture Shock Japan production. Director: Masaya Kato. Producers: Wilco C. Rullens and K.T. Rong. Writer: Masaya Kato. Cinematography: Hideki Shiota. Editing: Masaya Kato and Wilco C. Rullens.
Cast: Ariel Sekiya, Miharu Chiba, Eigi Kodoka, Shizuka Ayagaki, Maya Ono, Setsuma Kaga, Takeaki Abe.
The film comes to Blu-Ray and Amazon Prime Video on October 19 from Leomark Studios.