By Chris Hammond
So the first film in a trilogy of “horror” village films is finally making its way State-side thanks to distributor Dread. Inunaki mura or Howling village is set to come out in a limited theatre engagement on August 13 with on-demand (August 17th) and Blu-Ray (September 14) to follow. Although this film saw its release in Japan last year we here are finally getting our first look at it.
I had the chance to do a virtual press day with a one-on-one (minus the interpreter) with Director/Writer/Actor Takashi Shimizu. Many might not know this name, but most of you will know the film The Grudge and The Grudge 2, Ju-on and Ju-on 2, which Shimizu wrote and directed.
These films (especially the Ju-On ones) were the introduction of a new form of the Japanese Horror film (J-Horror as most people know it) that had ever been seen before (especially in North America). The films were scary, but not in a constant jump scare way. They are atmospheric and cause viewers to gain tension just waiting to see what happens next.
Shimizu is very happy to once again bring his style of filmmaking state-side with The Howling Village. First a little synopsis on the film:
After her brother goes missing, Kanade, a young psychologist visits his last known location, an infamous haunted and cursed site known as ‘Howling Village’ to investigate his disappearance. Her investigation reveals that the village’s mysteries are connected to her family and works to uncover her family’s dark history. Oddly enough there is a real “Inunaki tunnel”, but the village which Shimizu explains only exists in folklore.
“Inunaki Tunnel is a real thing and Inunaki Village really only exists in folklore, actually, it only exists in folklore. There are many locations in Japan with folklore as Japan has a long history with Urban Legends“
Being that Japan is such an old location, one can only bet that some of these places house a long history of death, pain, and ghosts of the past.
Writers Takashi Shimizu, Daisuke Hosaka was just releasing Howling Village (as it’s called in English) to a Japanese audience when Covid-19 starts to spread rapidly. Takashi Shimizu was in the middle of filming the follow-up to Howling Village (the second film in the trilogy) called Jukai Mura or Suicide Forest Village as it will be called in English.
Here’s what he had to say about shooting a film during a Pandemic
“I assume it is the same everywhere, we wash our hands and sanitize, we tried to be safe. Covid-19 happened while shooting the second film and we were like anyone and wondered how we would go about things. The third movie was shot entirely during the Pandemic and we just finished filming it yesterday”
Other things we discuss in our conversation is that although Shimizu prefers practical effects as he feels they build a more believable sense of atmosphere, he let me know he doesn’t hate CGI, practical or analog effects are just his preference. It is a preference that he knows and uses very well especially in the Ju-On/The Grudge films. This doesn’t always make for an easier path though. Shimizu shares a story about one of the effects in his new movie which took close to 45 hours to complete. An actress had to be dangled from a wire from a crane having her go up and down for ten minutes at a time.
Will Howling Village live up to the attraction the Ju-On films garnered only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, it is good to have more Takashi Shimizu horror films to look forward to.
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Writers: Takashi Shimizu, Daisuke Hosaka
Cast: Ayaka Miyoshi, Ryota Bando, Megumi Okina, Renji Ishibashi
Producer: Chikako Nakabayashi
Genre: Horror, Mystery
Run Time: 108 minutes
Rating: Not rated
Release Date: In Select Theaters August 13, On Demand August 17 + Blu-Ray September 14