Occult (2009) Movie Review
Written By: YN
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Kōji Shiraishi
Producers: Kōji Shiraishi
Writers: Kōji Shiraishi
Date Released: February 28, 2009
Rating = 3/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Occult (2009) is a “found footage” film in the form of a documentary directed by Koji Shiraishi. It follows the investigation behind the mass murder in Myogasaki where two women were killed, and a man named Shohei Eno was severely injured. The investigation falls into a harrowing turn when the team starts to experience supernatural and ghostly sightings. And when Eno claims that he has been experiencing miracles after the tragedy, the documentary sets out to find the truth only to be sucked into a Lovecraftian mystery that goes beyond this world.
Even with mass murder as the premise of this film, Occult (2009) cannot be classified as gory. What little blood it has are only shown in passing, and the camera is always too shaky and unstable to properly show the gory bits. In fact, even the murder rampage loses its violence because it is only shown through an amateur video taken by a bystander during the crime. You are only shown glimpses of how the murderer killed his victims and marked Eno with his knife while the rest of the video only shows the ground as people run away from the bloodbath. The goriest it gets is towards the end of the film when Shiraishi uses his camera to locate his colleague after a bombing and we see her decapitated head lying bodiless on the floor. Even then, we see no blood at all.
The Grave Review
Occult (2009) is shot to make it look like a low-budget documentary. This means camera works are shaky at some points; the special effects are quite laughable and unconvincing; sounds and dialogues can get muffled; and the general cinematography isn’t something to write home about. But all of these make the movie feel raw and authentic. It blurs the line between being a movie about a documentary and being an actual documentary itself. But despite the amateur-like aesthetics, the story itself can still give anyone the creeps.
While some may not like this type of aesthetics in films, this one works with the story because it adds to the mystery and general creepy vibe surrounding the fictional mass murder. By making it look ordinary, it gives an impression that the story and its characters are authentic. And with the great performances of the actors, it does feel like a true documentary at times. One can only shudder at the thought of such fanatics who goes on a rampage, claiming to be prophets of a divine being. This one hits too close to home. It draws you into an intimate setting without the usual spectacle of horror. And with its documentary-type of storytelling, it hits the bullseye.
The downside to this, however, is the pacing. It starts out strong by immediately showing the clip of the murder rampage at Myogasaki. With the shaky camera and the muffled screams at the background, you can only watch in confusion since you can barely make out what is happening. This is what hooks you in. The mystery and the chaos and the violence that you can’t quite comprehend. And when it dives into the ghostly and occult stories surrounding the mass murder, it starts to get too real. But then, this tension falls flat at the middle when they start to do the actual sleuthing. Things get too technical and didactic. There are some small scenes that will pipe up your interests once in a while, but things will only start picking up again near the end. But even then, the momentum is already broken, and the movie’s big reveal somehow loses its impact.
But the thing that can really give you goosebumps is the sounds they use when they are highlighting something in the clip or whenever they transition to another scene. There is something creepy about that low, droning sound and the accompanying mechanical noises at the background that creates an air of suspense. You just can’t help but shudder every time it plays in the scene.
With its occult-related mystery and raw footages, Occult (2009) can still get under your skin. But if you’re not a fan of the “found footage” type of movies, then this might not be for you.
With these reasons, Grave Reviews gives Occult (2009) three graves out of five graves.
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