Sunday, July 24, 2016

Fantasia ’16: The Inerasable

Notorious history disclosure is a big deal in real estate law, but here in the city, we don’t care. If we hear of a murder-suicide in a good building, we ask if that means there’s a vacancy. Tokyo is sort of like that, but this particular flat renting well below the neighborhood market rate still maintains an ominously high turnover rate. The newest tenant finds out why in Yoshihiro Nakamura’s The Inerasables (trailer here), which screens during the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival.

“I, the mystery novelist” does not talk about herself much, but she has a good relationship with her fans. Currently, she has a regular magazine gig writing ghost stories based on real experiences submitted by her readers. The latest comes from a university architecture student, who will simply be known as “Kubo.” Soon after moving into her suspicious affordable apartment, she started hearing noises from the bedroom nook. She eventually realizes in is the sound of a kimono sash sweeping the floor as the spirit wearing it swings on her spectral noose.

The unwanted supernatural disturbances are entirely confined to the one room of Kubo’s flat, but they appear to be rampant throughout the neighboring unit. With “I’s” help, Kubo starts investigating the history of the land itself, uncovering a chronicle of violent tragedy dating back over a century.

Inerasable is a wickedly smart and atmospheric film that turns j-horror conventions on their head. It is no accident “I” narrates the film, because Inerasable is very much about the telling of the tale. There is really no gore at all to be found within, but it is massively eerie to watch as the layers of the onion are peeled back. This is a horror film mystery readers will flip for, because it is driven by the investigative process.  Frankly, Inerasable will scare viewers directly in proportion to their level of concentration.

As a further relative rarity, Inerasable also features several complex characters played by a first class cast with understated discipline (masterfully helmed by Nakamura). As the cool, calm, and cerebral “I,” Yuko Taakeuchi makes Jessica Fletcher look like a bumbling idiot. Ai Hashimoto’s Kudo is also smart and acutely sensitive. Kuranosuke Sasaki adds some wit and panache as I’s mystery writer colleague, Yoshiaki Hiraoka, while Kenichi Takito keeps it real as Naoto, I’s down to earth husband.

Screenwriter Ken’ichi Suzuki’s adaptation of Fuyumi Ono’s novel has the immersive intricacy of considerably longer but similarly engrossing films, like Nobuhiko Obayashi’s Reason and the Solomon’s’ Perjury duology, which we consider high praise indeed. Yet, Inerasable also strangely brings to mind Scooby-Doo, simply because it is so pleasant to spend time with the informal paranormal-investigating team I assembles. They deserve future sequels, but this is what we have for now and its terrific. Very highly recommended for intelligent horror and mystery fans, The Inerasables had its Quebec premiere at this year’s Fantasia in Montreal.