|MOVIE DETAILS |
• Name: Ouija Japan
• Year: 2021
• Country: Japan
• Director: Masaya Kato
• Main cast: Ariel Sekiya, Miharu Chiba, Eigi Kodaka
• Runtime: 78 minutes
• Production company: Tokyo Bay Films Entertainment
Moving to another country is never an easy task. The culture shock can be as positive as negative, plus there are countries that are more welcoming to foreigners than others. But if there is a country that is more different than the rest, and with a population less open to cultures and languages aside from theirs, that is Japan.
In Ouija Japan (2021), a young woman married to a Japanese man is forced to adapt to the new costumes, make new friends, deal with a new language, and, to summarize, start a new life in such a not-welcoming country like Japan. With a husband that supports her in a pretty passive way, and with the help of her only friend, who is also the only person she knows around speaking the English language, the naive Karen decides to spend a weekend in the woods with a group of ladies with which most of them she can’t get along.
This only is already a quite disturbing situation and would create an atmosphere of distress and constant agony. Because if you thought feeling lost and lonely in a big city like Tokyo is only for hipsters starring in Lost in Translation (2003), then you are wrong. As soon as I read the synopsis of Ouija Japan (2021) I thought of “oh, no, that poor girl is doomed”, I needed to see how the story ended.
Well, luckily the story ends with a bloodbath. How else can we have a happy ending? Because in that weekend out they decide to play some sort of Japanese version of the ouija board and they awaken a mysterious game that takes control of their cell phones and their lives. And what was an anguish setup becomes a surviving game of death in the Battle Royale (2000) style.
Ouija Japan (2021) is a low-budget film that has many limitations in its acting, directing, editing, and storytelling. But, still, it has its own magic, and it works. One of those movies where you don’t know if you’re watching a parody or a true passionate exercise of action-horror flirting with amateurism. A very simple and at times inconsistent story where the unoriginality holds hands with pureness. All embellishment is stripped out and all that is left is a collection of cliched situations both in the first half of the movie where the protagonist is struggling to survive in the new city, or the second half where simply she is struggling to survive at all – and it all drenched in blood.
We don’t have to say it again, we don’t need the most expensive CGI effects or awards-winner screenplays to produce a film that is worth our time. The small running time of an hour and some minutes in Ouija Japan (2021) is more than sufficient to reach where the filmmakers wanted to go. A more extended run might bring tedium to the movie, so they deal wisely with their cards. A simple structure, a setup to build the characters enough to know who is who, make sure we know who the protagonist is, and then straight to the killings. Some predictable plot twists, a few gory deaths, low-cost epic fights, and the venture is ready for a wrap. Some people will think this movie is a joke, and maybe it is. But it’s an enjoyable one to watch with a few moments that are worth remembering.
Besides, a hybrid between Lost in Translation (2003) and Battle Royale (2000) is already stimulant enough, isn’t it?
IMDB URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt11162178