RETRIBUTION (Lionsgate, 2008) D: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, w/ Koji Yakusho, Manami Konishi. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN
If you’re into j-horror for the gore and girls walking backwards with hair in their faces, you won’t find much of that here. Retribution is a character-based ghost story with more on its mind than scaring teenagers. Its spooks illuminate guilt, despair and the faint hope of redemption.
All the evidence in the murder of the woman in the red dress points to the investigating cop (Koji Yakusho). He doesn’t know the dead woman, but he acts like a guilty man anyway. Things get worse when the ghost shows up.
Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cure) keeps his camera still and distant, filming entire scenes in master shot to ground star Yakusho firmly in the real world and let his face and decaying surroundings speak for themselves. Kurosawa lets the ghosts speak, too, which adds to the realism and makes the nasty bits more shocking.
The extras aren’t extensive, but they reveal a director and cast who find value in what Kurosawa describes “a commercial entertainment.”
EXTRAS Alternate ending, alternate ending making-of doc, director and cast Q&A. Widescreen. Japanese audio. English, Spanish subtitles.