It is like director Hideo Nakata was torn between making a genuine horror or a spoof rehash, so attempted to merge the two, resulting in an unremarkable and vacuous film. Jun’ya Katô and Ryûta Miyake’s attempt at rewriting Nakata’s previous 1996 horror, Don’t Look Up, is an insult to the J-horror genre, lacking the suspense, mystery and psychological tension it is usually comprised of. Instead, we are left with a vapid focus on the underdeveloped rivalry between actresses desperate for fame (played by Haruka Shimazaki, Riho Takada and Rika Adachi), under a stereotypically perverted director trying to take advantage of his young stars, whilst possessing not an ounce of the acting ability to do so believably.
The loose premise is that a director has cast the stage for his new play, which butchers the worn out fable of a woman feasting on the blood of the young and innocent to maintain her beauty. Unbeknownst to him and his young cast, the doll that acts as a reflection of the darker character within the protagonist is actually – and this part gets a bit vague – the re-incarnation of a man’s beloved niece who died in a landslide and was encased in a life-like doll model (of his creation, to hide her hideous, decaying corpse). How she came back to life or why she converted to evil is glossed over quickly.
The only reaction this film evokes is that of laughter at the over-egged reactions of the cast to the slightest stimulus seen. Following a checklist of out-dated horror movie techniques, there are many things that can be ticked off: ineffective running by soon to be victim, accelerating her inevitable death; the inexplicable quickness of the villain that defies a logical analysis of locomotive ability; the protagonist protesting she is not crazy; and excessive use of heavy breathing from the cast, regardless of whether they are in any imminent danger.
One saving grace is the costume department: its efforts at producing a corpse whose beauty and youth has been sucked from its core are admirable. However, they are not good enough to save the film. Its lazy production and sound technicians failed to stray outside the generic horror framework of overzealous thunder and torrential rain, produced from discernible rain curtains.
Ghost Theatre is a lacklustre patchwork of under-developed themes strewn together to make a disappointing horror, but a passable comedy.
Ghost Theatre does not have a UK release date yet.
Watch the trailer for Ghost Theatre here: