Kairo (2001) Movie Review
Written By: YN
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Producers: Yasuyoshi Tokuma, Shun Shimizu, et. al.
Writers: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Date Released: February 3, 2001
Kumiko Asō as Michi Kudo
Haruhiko Kato as Ryosuke Kawashima
Koyuki as Harue Karasawa
Kurume Arisaka as Junko Sasano
Masatoshi Matsuo as Toshio Yabe
Rating = 4/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Michi Kudo is left traumatized after witnessing her friend’s suicide right before her eyes. As she tries to make sense of his death, she discovers something sinister lurks inside her friend’s computer and behind doors that are sealed with red tapes. Meanwhile, college student Ryosuke Kawashima stumbles upon a website that offers to show him ghosts. Frightened, he quits the program only for his computer to malfunction and insist on playing mysterious videos of strangers alone in a dark room. One such video is a man whose face is obscured by darkness in a room where “help me” is written on the wall, repeatedly. As their stories begin to overlap one another, they realize that it is now up to them to stop whatever it is that threatens to end the lives of everyone they hold dear.
While Kairo (2001) may not fall in the spectrum of “gory horror movies”, the film’s death count is still high. It does not shy away from displaying explicit death scenes and gruesome suicides, but it does not make a caricature out of them as well. There are no exaggerated sprays of blood when someone shoots herself in the head. There are no oddly crumpled bodies after someone jumps off a tower. The violence in the film does not fall for extravagance, but it can still catch you off guard, leaving you disturbed and haunted by the realism of each deaths you watch.
The Grave Review
If philosophy becomes a horror movie, Kairo (2001) is probably it. It isn’t much of a ghost story but is more of a story about death and what it entails. But no matter how philosophical the movie can get, it doesn’t make it boring or less scary. In fact, the first 30 minutes of the film leaves no room for you to catch your breath. It maintains a foreboding and dark atmosphere that keeps everyone on their toes.
The film uses cinematography to masterfully create a sense of dread and apprehension throughout the story. Each scene is shot in a wide angle where shadows lurk at its every nook and cranny. It can make anyone paranoid just by looking at the scene long enough to see the shadows start moving. Before you know, there is a ghost jumping out of the darkness and is charging right at the screen.
Another way it scares its viewers is the way the deaths in the film leave dark, ominous marks on floors or walls, forming the silhouette of the deceased before he or she meets her end. This results to heart-pounding, terrifying scenes where you see a blurry, unknown entity standing behind the protagonist, tucked away in the shadows, and leaving the impression that there are ghosts peering back at you from your screen, watching you as you watch them.
Accompanying these scenes is the equally creepy music that rises to a crescendo as if to warn the viewers when to cover their eyes.
The film also deals with sensitive topics such as suicide, social isolation and hopelessness. Everyone in the movie battles with their own struggles with loneliness, and you can see the way it weakens and consumes them as each death takes a toll on their mental health. It leaves the question of what it means to be dead. Is it freedom from the hardship and bleakness of life? Or is it just eternal loneliness?
While the story drives home such hard-hitting and anxiety-inducing questions, it tries to give its viewers hope through its two protagonists. It is impossible not to get attached to Michi and Ryosuke as they comfort their friends and share their positivity to them despite the desolation (and ghosts!) that haunts all of them.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Kairo (2001) four graves out of five graves.
Do you agree with our review? Comment below.
You may also like our review of the film, Haunted Mansion.