Friday, November 12, 2010

DVD Review: Hide and Go Kill 2 (2009)

Cinema Epoch

DIRECTOR: Masafumi Yamada

CAST: Yukie Kawamura, Mayuko Kawakita, Masahiro Usui, Ben Yuzawa, Yuzu Kubota, Miyû Wagawa

SYNOPSIS: When her classmate Ritsuko disappears, her friend Ryoko is desperate to find her. When she discovers that Ritsuko was playing a strange game online of hide and seek, she begins to wonder if it could be related to her disappearance somehow. Ryoko then discovers that the game is more sinister than it appeared at first. It is linked to demonology and the supernatural. Will she be able to get past her fears and superstitions to discover what secrets the game of hide and seek might hold?

FILM: The sequel to the creepy urban ghost tale Hide and Go Kill (2008) came out just a year afterwards and is directed by Masafumi Yamada. The film is centered around a high school where students and teachers are being affected by the game of Hitori Kakurenbo and the angered spirit it brings. The film is very similar to the first though the storytelling is more linear and the mythology is expanded on to some degree. If you missed out on the review for Hide and Go Kill here's how the game is played...

First you  take a stuffed doll or animal and give it a name. Once you've named it cut it open and remove all the stuffing. Replace the stuffing with rice and your nail clippings and sew it back up using a needle and red thread. When done wrap the doll in the remainder of the thread. Then at precisely 3am take your stuffed animal to the bathroom, holding it in both hands and say "For the first game I'm (state your name) going to be it." three times and  drop the doll in water. Then you must turn off all the light in the house. You may turn on the TV but it must be an off-air static filled station. Now close your eyes and count to ten. Open your eyes and take a knife or sharp implement and return to the bathroom where you must find the doll and exclaim "I found you (state dolls name here)!" and proceed to stab it with a knife. You've won this round.  Next you say "Okay, now (name of dolls here) is it." The Japanese  word for "it" is Oni or "Devil" - weird, right? So, you're basically saying "You're the Devil". Leaving the impaled doll in the bathroom you must quickly run from the room and hide quietly in a closet or similar small space. Bring with you a glass of salt water with you when you hide. The object is to remain hidden in your space until sunrise or as log as you can despite what you may hear, see or feel. According to the blog  people have reported smelling repulsive odors, temperature changes, the sensation of being pulled at or tugged, creaking sounds, furniture moving. No matter what happen you must stay hidden. At sunrise the game is almost over but not quite. Fill your mouth with as much salt water as you can, don't swallow it. With the water in mouth go to the bathroom where you left the doll, keep in mind it may not still be there. Search until you find it, don't give up. When you find it spit the water on the doll and say three time "I won!" The final act is to burn the doll. To stray from any of these steps is to invite death upon yourself from the ghostly apparition who is summonsed by the incantation, this is basically a ritual to curse yourself.

Ms. Kashiwaga is a teacher at the high school, she notices a student named Uno seems troubled and out of sorts. She walks the young girl home and while she is not forthcoming during the conversation she inquires to Ms. Kashiwagi if she's heard of hide and seek alone game.  Uno disappears a short time later. The teacher begins her own inquest in the game and sees video of the apparition on the internet, soon after she begins having odd visions and dreams of a childhood friend who disappeared years earlier. Ms. Kashiwaga hears at school that one of the new teaching staff Mr. Yamagata was fired from his previous teaching job for necromancy and cult activities. As students and coworkers disappear around her she asks Mr. Yamagata for help and it is from him that the mythos surrounding Hide and Seek Alone is expanded on.

The pace of this film despite it's longer running time seems more fluid and the characters are  better developed as we get to spend more time with them. Aikawa is a troubled young man whose mother has recently passed away and he contemplates the murder his father. Maya is a young woman who craves Aikawa's attention and she thinks she may be able to use the Hide and Seek Alone incantation to rid him of his father. In matters of the occult and supernatural these things rarely pan out as expected, it is no different here.

Aside from more character development the film is also more visually focused and I enjoyed the multiple montages of the teens readying the game, it's just creepy to watch and was the highlight of both films for me. The encounters with the ghost are more startling and prolonged as well. Both this film and it's predecessor benefited from a great film score that created a tense audio dynamic that greatly enhanced my viewing experience.

DVD: Hide and Go Kill 2 makes its way to DVD from Cinema Epoch and is presented in anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen with a Japanese language Dolby Digital Stereo soundtrack with optional English subtitles. Special features include an photo gallery of stills from the film and an image gallery of other Cinema Epoch titles. Pretty bare bones but a good audio/visual presentation. 

VERDICT: Hide and Go Kill 2 is as effective as it's predecessor and expands on the personal stories of the participants involved in the game of Hide and Seek Alone, however, the bits of character development were a bit weak the exception being Ms. Kashiwaga as she looks into the disappearances of her friend and coworker, that was very intriguing though I did not care for the dreams and flashbacks of her missing friend. The expansion of the mythos from Mr. Yamagata is interesting but yields no real answers only more questions. Still, and intriguing and atmospheric ghost tale that won't disappoint.
***1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)