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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sad and beautiful Japanese ghost story
I thought this movie was wonderful. The Japanese make the best horror films in the world, but many of those films, especially ghost stories such as Shikoku, operate on a different spiritual plane than Western horror. The fact that Shikoku is hyped as a product of the studio that produced the Ringu series will have many viewers expecting chills and frights that just...
Published on 15 July 2007 by Daniel Jolley

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3.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected
I have seen so many Asian movies that it is a little hard for one to stand out these days but well worth a look for the price and better than i expected. An interesting premise a little different to usual.
Published on 1 Nov. 2010 by Hakkattack


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sad and beautiful Japanese ghost story, 15 July 2007
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shikoku [1999] [DVD] (DVD)
I thought this movie was wonderful. The Japanese make the best horror films in the world, but many of those films, especially ghost stories such as Shikoku, operate on a different spiritual plane than Western horror. The fact that Shikoku is hyped as a product of the studio that produced the Ringu series will have many viewers expecting chills and frights that just aren't to be found here. When it comes to J-Horror, you can't expect the movie to conform to your expectations; instead, you have to embrace what you are given. Shikoku is about love and loss and sadness, not horror per se. It has its creepy moments, but I would describe Shikoku as a spiritual horror movie, operating at a wavelength that those of us in the West have to learn to appreciate. If you can do that, you'll fall in love with movies such as this one.

I found the first few scenes somewhat confusing, as we see three children enjoying themselves and then watch one of them, Sayori (Chiaki Kuriyama) take part in a strange, voodoo-like ceremony. Then one of the friends, Hinako, moves to Tokyo with her family. As we later find out, this greatly upset Sayori, for she was the one who had long dreamed of the day she could leave the rural and isolated village on Shikoku. Time passes, and then an adult Hinako (Yui Natsukawa) returns to the village, only to find out that Sayori had drowned sixteen years ago. Fumiya (Michitaka Tsutsui), their mutual friend, is still there, however, and he and Hinako begin spending time together. There's a level of discomfort to it all, though, as Fumiya always seems to act as if he fears someone is watching them. At the same time, strange and troubling things begin happening in the village, including the desecration of some holy statues outside of town. Some of the villagers seem to fear that Hinako's presence has somehow provided the means for the dead to return.

Truths emerge slowly as the story develops. Sayori's absent mother, who is a priestess of some sort, has been taking annual pilgrimages to all 88 temples on the island of Shikoku. It turns out, however, that she has been visiting each temple in reverse order, as her secret intention is to tear down the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds in order to reclaim her daughter. We also learn of the depth of Fumiya's relationship with Sayori, which adds a great deal of emotion and feeling to the ending of the film. You just don't find this kind of poignancy in Western ghost stories.

An understanding of Japanese culture and language would add much to the viewer's experience of Shikoku, but it is not necessary. The two possible meanings of the word Shikoku, for example, are made pretty clear in the context of the film. I also have to say that Chiaki Kuriyama is mesmerizing as Sayori. I believe this was her first true film role, but you wouldn't know it as it's impossible to take your eyes off of her whenever she is on the screen.

Shikoku does come with a few special features. The behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the movie is really just that, a narration-free look at the preparation and filming of several of the film's later scenes. You also get interviews with director Shunichi Nagasaki and both leading actresses - and, fortunately, all of these special features are accompanied by English subtitles. It's always interesting to get some insight into the atmosphere of Japanese movie sets, as there always seems to be a relaxed professionalism between cast and crew that provides a refreshing contrast to the almost-constant turmoil to be found on most American film sets.

Just know that this is not a frightening movie; it's suspenseful, and it does have some creepy moments, but it's not a horror movie in the Western sense of the term. There is no strict dichotomy between good and evil established, as the ghost ends up being the most pitiable and plaintive character in the whole film. Perhaps, more than anything else, Shikoku is a tragic love story - and quite a beautiful one, in my opinion.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spooky and interesting!, 9 Mar. 2005
By 
Mr. Ruairi McGovern (Sligo Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shikoku [1999] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a very well made horror film based on a best selling novel and oddly similar to the theme of the highly acclaimed Japanese movie "Ring". It's about a woman called Hinako who returns to her childhood home called Shikoku from Toyko and finds out that strange things have been happening there, including her childhood freind has died in odd circumstances. Also she discovers an ancient mysterious myth that involves the dead being able to return through ritual means. Overall the plot is exciting enough to keep you tense, nervous and the performances by the actors are very good, especially the one who plays Hinako. The only draw back is that the DVD doesn't have movie notes or information on the plot, apart from a series of interviews with the director and the cast, which doesn't give much light on the original book as well as the writer. Still it's worth buying or renting!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange, 3 Nov. 2006
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This review is from: Shikoku [1999] [DVD] (DVD)
I do not know whether my particular copy was slightly faulty, but the picture was very unsteady in places, almost as though the director wanted to make the viewer feel as though he was watching a home video. If nothing else, the unsteadiness of the picture contributed to the unsettling effect of the film.

The film is set in rural Japan, which perhaps sets it apart from other Japanese horror films which I have watched. As a result, the way of life seems unfamiliar to a Western viewer. Although there is a sense in which all Japanese horror films can be regarded as exploring certain aspects of Japanese spirituality, this film does so in a more traditional sense in that Japanese temples play an important role. I have no way of knowing whether the events which take place in the temples are authentic or not. The unfamiliarity of the setting and the religious practices contributes to the viewer's feeling that he is having a new cinematic experience. The heroine is a sympathetic figure. Unfortunately, she is surrounded by people who are not all they seem. Although the basic premise of the film becomes apparent about halfway through, the ending is not clear, so the viewer is sufficiently interested to watch the film until the end. This is psychological horror; it is definitely not a "slasher" movie.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spooky, 12 Oct. 2007
By 
Iain McClumpha (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shikoku [1999] [DVD] (DVD)
This is probably the closest I've seen to a traditional Japanese ghost story on DVD.
It delivers nice little tingles every time Soyori appears in her earlier ghostly scenes, but she becomes this tragic, desperate figure once her mother's magic works.

I love this to bits.

9/10 - if only for not really explaining how Soyori can break people's backs.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice. Just wish the cameraman would get a tripod., 17 Oct. 2007
By 
Pallus (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shikoku [1999] [DVD] (DVD)
This entire film is shot with 'Wobbly-hand-cam' which I am NOT a fan of.
To be honest, it's more like 'Steady-hand-cam' and reasonably subtle, so rather than making me feel ill, it just kept reminding me of the presence of a cameraman. This slightly hindered my immersion into the film; it made me want to shout "Can you just keep STILL?!".

I thought this was especially odd as the rest of the visuals were, IMHO, bee-yootiful.

Although this fits the Horror genre because of the subject matter, it's not hardcore horror. The supernatural theme is enhanced by a touching story of growing-up and remembering childhood (emotions). All set in a stunning location in rural Japan.

Horror events were more creepy than jumpy, but done very well as the Japanese seem to do. -Without the jerky/sped-up effect which has become so clichéd + over-used since Ringu and all those offshoots. Classy and subtle rather than in-your-face.

I found the plot interesting and the characters believable and likeable. The plot is not a demanding one and the film can be fully enjoyed without too much mental effort. Not like the Korean 'Tale of 2 sisters' wot proper did my head in, or Donnie Dorko et al.

So, all in all, if you come home from work knackered and you want a pleasing and fulfilling film which you can follow with ease and which is a feast for the eyes, Shikoku should be just what the doctor ordered.

..As long as you don't mind the fact that the image floats around your TV screen like the camera's blowing in the wind.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected, 1 Nov. 2010
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This review is from: Shikoku [1999] [DVD] (DVD)
I have seen so many Asian movies that it is a little hard for one to stand out these days but well worth a look for the price and better than i expected. An interesting premise a little different to usual.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not amazing by any means but not a waste of time ..., 17 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Shikoku [1999] [DVD] (DVD)
Something a bit different. Not amazing by any means but not a waste of time either. Worth a watch.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 12 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Shikoku [1999] [DVD] (DVD)
Good
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible and boring!, 20 Nov. 2008
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This review is from: Shikoku [1999] [DVD] (DVD)
This film was really terrible. I am a fan of Asian horror films and so I took a chance on this one. It is really poor quality, shaky camera work and grainy. The plot is incredibly slow and dull and there are no spooky or scary bits. There is also a really poorly done love story which added nothing to the weak plot. This films suffers because they have assumed that they can simply film someone with long dark hair and acheive a scary film - well they can't!
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Shikoku [1999] [DVD]
Shikoku [1999] [DVD] by Shunichi Nagasaki (DVD - 2005)
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