Aka. The Unidentified
Dir. Koji Shiraishi
* * 1/2
My longtime readers will know that I’m a huge fan and champion of Shiraishi’s work. Then again like many Japanese horror director’s he has two sides: the straight pop-gore horror films and then his found-footage films, and these are some of the most interesting horror films I’ve ever seen. From what I’ve read, and it takes years to get his films (often in bootleg form) over here, he’s tried to meld to two together of late.
Occult is incredibly self-conscious. This is the first film in which Koji plays himself as a character, something he has done in every found-footage film he’s done since, and implicates himself and his filming of the action into the plot (fellow director Kiyoshi Kurosawa also plays himself in the film). After hearing about a random act of violence on a bridge he sets out to make a documentary about it, and gets very close to one of the survivors, who has begun to hear voices and see things.
The film is over-conscious at times. It’s what it would have looked like had late-period Godard directed Larry Cohen’s God Told Me To with after reading a ton of Lovecraft. It’s a bit of a mess, and far too slow for average horror fans. When it’s effective it’s incredible, but the majority of the film is not.