Marebito (2004)They didn't see something that terrified them. They saw something because they were terrified.
Masouka is a photographer obsessed with capturing images of that moment of fear just before death. Whilst studying his images of a man who stabbed himself in the eye in an underground train station, Masouka notices that the suicidee was looking at something just before he plunged the knife into his own head. Returning to the scene of the self inflicted headache, Masouka discovers the man was looking at a door. The door leads to a massive underground network of tunnels.
After travelling through the labyrinth for hours Masouka encounters the man from the knife incident (now wearing a stylish pair of blind person shades) and assumes that travelling through the tunnels has driven him mad and he is seeing ghosts. The man/ghost tells Masouka of the Deros, subterranean creatures that have lived in the tunnels for centuries and that these underground worlds exist under most major cities.
As he descends deeper into the cavernously crafted world of the Deros, Masouka discovers a naked and pale girl chained to the rock. Even though the girls pale complexion and vampire like teeth lead Masouka to believe that she is not entirely human, he decides to free her and take her home to his apartment. He names her 'F' and keeps her under surveillance 24 hours a day in his home as he pursues his photography.
F neither eats, drinks or speaks and is attracting some attention from some suspicious persons who seem to know all about the underworld. On returning to his apartment Masouka's cut finger seems to attract F's attention, drawn to the blood she sucks the wound and Masouka knows the nourishment she needs to survive. Unable to satisfy her hunger with his own blood F's diet is supplemented with murdered animals but she really needs human blood to regain her full strength.
As the photographer learns more of the secret world under the city his grip on reality almost disappears as his obsession with death and F make him commit murderous acts to further his research and feed his new humanlike pet.
This movie is a look at how one mans obsession can drive him to extreme lengths and ultimately drive him mad. At points in the story you are left wondering whether you are watching events in Masouka's life or watching his mental breakdown through his eyes (and the eyes of his camera). Marebito was filmed in 8 days on a very low budget which amazes me as this movie is easily comparable to Takashi Shimizu's other endeavours. There are few gory effects but the movie doesn't need it to support the psychological horror portrayed and maybe overall the low budget has been a positive aspect as the true focus was on the plot rather than effects.
This is a superb Asian horror movie and a tribute to Takashi Shimizu's directing abilities. If you are a J-Horror fan and are looking a bit of a break from the norm Marebito is well worth a watch.