The Complex ("Kuroyuri danchi")
Official Selection, Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2013
Official Selection, Gérardmer International Fantastic Film Festival 2013
“The director is a master at combing urban horror with ancient terrors and this nicely fraught and twisted tale will appeal to lovers of classic J-horror” - Mark Adams, SCREEN DAILY
In 1998, Hideo Nakata spread fear across the planet with RINGU (those present at Fantasia 1999 remember all too well). With tightly controlled direction, a relentlessly oppressive atmosphere and bone-chilling sound effects held together by an admirable discipline regarding music and the depiction of horrifying imagery, he altered the fright flick while simultaneously launching the famous Japanese horror wave. Fans of the creeping-fear expert who slowly-but-surely paralyzes his audience, rejoice! After having left J-horror behind for almost a decade, Nakata finally returns to his first love with THE COMPLEX.
Once again dealing with vengeful spirits, he introduces us to Asuka (Atsuko Maeda, former member of pop phenom AKB48), a teenage girl whose family moves into an apartment complex with a troubled past. Her first night’s sleep is interrupted by a distressing scratching noise that seems to be emanating from a next-door apartment occupied by a recluse old man. Initially curious by the ghost stories told about her new home by her classmates, everything changes when she decides to visit her neighbour and finds him without a pulse. Her family is acting stranger every day and a weird little boy is desperately trying to become her friend. Mirroring the housing project in which she resides, Asuka’s troubled past is filled with repressed tragic events that are itching to rise up the surface. When the old man’s wraith manifests, she slowly slips into a downward spiral of rising lunacy. With the help of Shinobu (Hiroki Narimiya, star of the delirious ACE ATTORNEY), a young man sensitive to paranormal activity, she attempts to protect her soul from the grips of a merciless entity.
A selection at the prestigious Rotterdam festival, THE COMPLEX deals with an all-too-real social issue prevalent in Japan: formerly-prized apartment complexes that become miserable slums housing anonymous souls who, more often than not, are lonely seniors whose eventual demises are noticed by the mounting smell of decay detected long after they’ve passed. Solitude, a scary feeling in itself that Nakata deftly manipulates on various levels, occupies a central position within the film. THE COMPLEX is technically irreproachable with its uncomfortable sound effects and audaciously lit photography that is perfectly designed for nightmarish revelations, its last act strongly reminiscent of Argento’s SUSPIRIA. A surprising and baffling piece of work, THE COMPLEX relies on a gloomier ambience than RINGU while maintaining great efficiency. He may still be the master of J-horror, but Hideo Nakata has matured considerably — which is more than fine by us.
— Nicolas Archambault