High School Horror Movie: Get Ready to Scream!
Ever since Groundhog Dog popularised the time loop, the concept has been used and reused to great effect in a variety of films and TV shows through the decades. The idea of trapping a character in the same place, with the same people and events, with the same things happening over and over and over again can be comical, exciting, horrifying, or even romantic. From Edge of Tomorrow to Palm Springs to Russian Doll, we’ve seen filmmakers mine the repetition of time loops to create surprisingly inventive scenarios.
The concept has been especially fruitful in the realm of horror, with films like Happy Death Day and Triangle using this Möbius strip plot device to smartly deliver both physical and existential scares. Similarly, Japanese author Welzard used the time loop structure for Karada Sagashi, his frightening cell phone novel (literature written on a mobile phone via text messaging) that was adapted into an enormously successful manga by artist Katsutoshi Murase.
Given its popularity, it’s understandable why many were excited when it was announced that Karada Sagashi had also been greenlit for a live-action feature film adaptation. Entitled Re/Member, the movie follows Asuka Morisaki (Kanna Hashimoto), a teenager who sees the apparition of a dead child named Haruka on July 5. Ominously, the ghost asks the girl to find the scattered remains of her corpse in her high school. When Asuka returns to campus, she’s joined by childhood buddy Takahiro (Gordon Maeda), alongside four other classmates: Rumiko (Yamamoto Maika), Atsushi (Kamio Fuju), Shota (Daigo Kotaro), and Rie (Yokota Mayuu).
Before they can accomplish their task, an undead little girl drenched in blood, referred to as the Red Person, arrives to brutally murder each of them. But after she dies, Asuka awakens – and we’re back at the morning of July 5. After some research, the teens realise that they’re trapped in a paranormal phenomenon called “Body Search” – a kind of game where they must find every piece of a murder victim’s dismembered body, or be doomed to the relive the same traumatising 24 hours, where they’re hunted and killed, for all eternity.
Six kids desperate to escape the murderous loop of a supernatural slasher seems like a solid premise for an engaging horror film. With the need to investigate the mystery of the Red Person, the past victims and the phenomena of the time loop, Re/Member possesses all the ingredients for a thrilling and intriguing scary movie. Unfortunately, this film fails to translate the strengths of its source material due to atrocious writing and incoherent plotting.
Every character present is a clichéd Breakfast Club archetype, just without the layered arcs that the John Hughes classic offered. It’s obvious that the actors did their best with material they were given, but with such flimsy characterisations, it becomes increasingly difficult to care about them, their developing friendship, or the stakes.
The story’s lore, while interesting at the outset, becomes a jumbled mess, with important plot points either rushed or vaguely explained. Likewise, the movie does a poor job of escalating, let alone maintaining, the suspense it begins with. After the gory shocks of the first few kills, mining scares from the Red Person becomes a game of diminishing returns.
Despite the clunky writing, director Eiichirō Hasumi (Assassination Classroom) and his production team at least do a great job of making the film visually appealing. In particular, the design of the Red Person is effectively terrifying, using contortionist stunt doubles and practical effects alongside VFX to create an entity that looks and moves convincingly. That said, the terrible dialogue, lazily written character dynamics, and sloppy storytelling make Re/Member a movie we’d rather forget.
- Director: Eiichirō Hasumi
- Starring: Kanna Hashimoto, Gordon Maeda, Yamamoto Maika
- Release date: February 14 (Netflix)
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