Reincarnation (or Rinne in Japanese) is a film that came out in 2005, directed by Takashi Shimizu. No American remake for this one, perhaps because it showed up pretty late in the J-horror craze period, and its plot is tied to Japanese culture and religion quite a bit. Also, it’s not very good.
The biggest issue I have with Reincarnation is it’s very boring. I’m kind of shocked that this is by the same director as Ju-On: The Grudge (which I plan to review tomorrow). Every scene in Ju-On seemed to bring something new and imaginative and frightening for us to behold; meanwhile Reincarnation just feels phoned in, and much more by-the-numbers despite its interesting premise.
The concept for this story works great for a horror film, at least on paper. Our protagonist is an actress named Nagisa, who lands the role of a murder victim in a new horror movie based on a real event (well, real in-universe) in which 11 people at a hotel were killed by a crazed man (who then killed himself). Over the course of the filming, Nagisa starts remembering events from a past life, and realizes she might be the reincarnation of the girl she’s playing in the film. As you might expect, ghosts of these victims start showing up, and events in the present day begin mirroring the events of what the film is based on.
I think the premise is sound. But the film is just not engaging. Most of it is devoted to the actress looking scared, because she’s supposed to look scared for the film but is actually being scared by the ghosts she’s seeing. That’s acting for you. But the thing is, the acting of Reincarnation ends up feeling really flat? Maybe because it’s so meta about this? I couldn’t care much for the protagonist in this one, and she didn’t have any interesting side characters to interact with. The movie is just her being scared of the ghosts.
This leads to my next problem: the ghosts. They’re just regular-looking people who stand there, and at times walk around a little bit like zombies. It’s a complete 180 from what we had in Ju-On: The Grudge. I generally agree with the concept “less is more” when it comes to horror, but hell, there needs to be something. I can’t think of any particular scene in Reincarnation that stands out at all unfortunately.
Giving credit where credit is due: The ending is not bad–I like the twist that they work with. But it’s not enough to make the slow and repetitive build-up feel worthwhile at all. Also, there’s a pretty creepy doll? I liked it well enough, but it’s not something unique at all for the genre. The positives I’m trying to come up with aren’t all that great I suppose, so I better stop there. I’ll only suggest this if you need extra padding for a series of horror movie marathons.