Of all of the Asian Horror DVD movies in my personal collection [that were] purchased on the International market, this is the one-- along with "Tyakusin Ari" (aka "One Missed Call") --I totally had NOT expected would be picked up for official "Region-1" DVD release. I don't know what this all means from the DVD marketers' perspective, but I'm beginning to have my... umm... "suspicions."
Here we have a movie that is neither exclusively "good" nor exclusively "bad" -- just weighed heavily in "ambivalence."
The main theme of the story is intriguing enough: A forensic facial reconstructionist, distraught over the death of his wife and additionally burdened with caring for his deathly ill little daughter, submits his resignation from police work even as he is being begged to stay on due to the sheer volume of work still needed to be done which requires his expertise. He is "involuntarily" coaxed back into service by a young new protege and by a number of "unexplained phenomena" surrounding a new skull he has been asked to offer his help with.
Complicating matters is the repeatedly unstable condition of his sickly daughter -- who had undergone a very dangerous & difficult heart transplant surgery that required a very rare type of "organ donor match" in order for the surgical procedure to have even the slightest chances of success (a "MacGuffin" referred to in the movie as "Beta Alergic"). "Inspired," if you will, by a thread of ghostly apparitions and other related inexplicable sights & sensations, the specialist becomes convinced that the spirit connected to the latest skull in his possession will not rest quietly until it has been given its face back. During this process he gradually becomes convinced that his daughter had become the recipient of the heart of the skull/ghost in question and that the circumstances under which it was acquired may be highly (and frighteningly) suspect. Et cetera and so-forth.
Even with the suspensions of logic that are required, this film has one MAJOR fault which prevented me from scoring it any higher than I surely would have: THE COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY "SADAKO-LIKE" GHOSTLY APPEARANCES! -- ALL OF THEM! (You will completely understand my frustration over this once the "Big Reveal" at the end becomes evident!) It was bad enough that our main protaganist was being "tormented" by Sadak...uh... 'that long-haired ghost-woman' -- but why was Sada... 'that ghost' ALSO being used to frighten his daughter? (Yeah, I know -- it's all supposedly because of the "connection" they all have between themselves & whatnot, but again the "LOGIC" behind it gets thrown to the wind upon the "Big Reveal"!) In other words, this movie was just trying to capitalize off of the "creepy imagry" made popular by Nakata Hideo's "Sadako" in "RING," and nothing more.
Had they left the ghostly appearances completely out of this movie it would have worked perfectly as a metaphysical/psychological thriller and would have made for a much stronger and more memorable movie, in my opinion.
And typical of what many "A-Horror" movies have become notorious for, this one features several "flashback" sequences which are immediately indistinguishable from the main scenes of the film, so expect to be thrown off track at a couple of important junctures -- then angered that such haphazard incorporations helped to further ruin an already difficult-enough viewing experience.
So the real question becomes, Can I recommend this title for purchase? At it's currently listed price, I'd say no -- especially if you're so fed up with the "A-Horror" cliches of recent years that you'd feel insulted that a movie would make such deliberate use of them for no other purpose than simply to capitalize on that market. Should the price come down on it, however-- say, somewhere in the neighborhood of $14.95 & under --then I'd say go ahead and give it a look-see, it wouldn't hurt much of anything then, if you did.