Fantasia 2013 Review: The Complex


The Complex comes to us from Hideo Nakata, the man who gave us Ringu, yet also went on to deliver The Ring Two and Chatroom.  His latest effort proves to be as varied in quality as his career has been as it fluctuates between the mundane and familiar tropes we’ve seen plague the J-horror sub-genre to something enjoyably batshit bonkers and creative.

The film is dense with twists and turns, the only problem is that it makes you work for the pay-off.  Real hard.  But it plants all sorts of fun little seeds that ultimately connect into something pretty crazy.

The first half introduces the audience to Asuka, a young woman moving into an apartment with her mother, father and younger brother.

Shortly after settling in, Asuka begins to experience a bit of deja vu, further, she’s hearing strange scratching sounds coming from the other side of her bedroom wall.  Also, what’s up with the neighbor next door?  And who’s this little boy that lives in the apartment complex and why has he taken to Asuka?

Well, it all starts to fall together with Asuka’s discovery of the neighbor’s body next door (the poor old guy’s been scratching away at the wall for days), but that’s not even a spoiler – it’s just the beginning of the madness that follows and I’d rather not divulge much more.

What you need to know is that The Complex begins as a fairly traditional ghost story.  And the execution of it is rather standard stuff.  Like I said, it makes you work.  But it’s all there to root you in the emotional turmoil of Asuka, who comes with a lot of baggage as you come to discover.  A threat builds steadily against Asuka and it really presents itself in the latter half of the film where Nakata is able to demonstrate all of the tricks he’s learned over the years.  

The Complex becomes visually arresting, further, there’s a heavy dramatic weight to it – and while it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, it still works.  Pop star Atsuko Maeda (Asuka) really kills it in her role, pushing herself to some agonizing limits.

As someone who had been experience J-horror fatigue, I got a kick out of The Complex.  It managed to turn itself around in surprising ways.

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