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Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Bldg. N Review Japanese Haunted Apartment Movie Cant Fill Its Own Vacancy

In true fashion, the inspiration for the Japanese horror film Bldg. N is an urban legend. In the early 2000s, there was a media storm about the “poltergeist apartments” in Tomika, Gifu. This new complex lured many tenants with its cheap rent, but they gradually cleared out once the paranormal activity began and the news coverage became unreasonable. The reports on the supposed haunting don’t come across as especially unique, so director and writer Yōsuke Gotō understandably had to fill in the gaps when writing his adaptation of the incident. What he came up with is indeed unusual, given that Japanese ghost films don’t typically include Midsommar-esque death cults.

Bldg. N (or N-Goto) opens with the literal definition of thanatophobia, an intense fear of death and the dying process. The story then introduces the character afflicted with said phobia and shows how much of a toll it has taken on her life. Others would avoid the topic altogether, but Shiori (Minori Hagiwara) has this frequent impulse to confront death. The one exception to her behavior, though, is what ultimately puts her and her friends in harm’s way.

When she’s not nodding off in her college course about the philosophy of life and death or avoiding a very important decision regarding her family, Shiori plays the third wheel on her ex-boyfriend’s date with his new girlfriend, Maho (Kasumi Yamaya). Of course, that date is actually Keita (Yūki Kura) scouting locations for his school project: a horror film.

Bldg. N

Bldg. N included some identifying details about the real-life apartment and incident. The danchi-style building in the film is also set in the Gifu Prefecture, and specific information from the reports — such as those moving white shadows — are put on screen. The actual apartment didn’t become abandoned like the one in Gotō’s script, but here the reports of Bldg. N’s total emptiness have been greatly exaggerated. Upon their arrival, Shiori, Keita, and Maho are shocked to learn that the building is still occupied by a number of residents. They are all suspiciously kind and welcoming long before their true intentions are revealed.

People with thanatophobia can be irrational about death. So bearing that in mind, Shiori’s behavior from here on out is better understood, if not frustrating to watch. Now, getting the characters to their ominous destination took little effort or time. Barely fifteen minutes into the film and Shiori and her pals are already at Bldg. N. Gotō not wasting any time can be seen as a good thing. Yet it’s Shiori’s decision to stay overnight at the creepy, run-down apartment and pass over all subsequent chances for escape that will make viewers’ heads spin. This logical misstep can be explained away when remembering Shiori’s senseless desire to understand death and what comes after. In truth, the script has Shiori making stupid decisions in order to maintain a flimsy plot.

Putting aside any foibles about the setup and protagonist, the lead performances in Bldg. N is its selling point. Hagiwara lights up every scene she’s in, even when her character is being utterly foolish and self-centered. Her adversary in the story, Kanako (Mariko Tsutsui), is the gentle but intimidating leader of the death cult at the apartment. Tsutsui plays her softly eerie role to the max and provides the most unnerving element of this otherwise unscary film. Kanako makes for a compelling villain whose rationale about existence, while misguided and nutty, is pure, at least in her twisted mind.

The fear of dying is understandable for most people, so the concept of a character who can’t quite live her life because she is painfully conscious of her eventual death is promising. Unfortunately, the rest of the film doesn’t follow through on its core idea.

Bldg. N was screened as part of the 27th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN).

2.5 out of 5 skulls

Bldg. N poster

The post ‘Bldg. N’ Review – Japanese Haunted Apartment Movie Can’t Fill Its Own Vacancy appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3768003/bldg-n-review-japanese-haunted-apartment/

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