Sometimes we watch a movie and wonder what the hell we are watching. It could be the constant plot twists, the horrible acting, or the overarching ideas or philosophies of the film. Even if you don’t understand a movie you can still appreciate it for its craft or mastery. Unfortunately, Marebito is a film that is way too intelligent for its own good. Not only is it difficult to follow, but also it doesn’t master anything whatsoever.
The film revolves around a cameraman named Masuoka (Shinya Tsukamoto) who is obsessed with the concept of fear after witnessing the suicide of another man. Through the lens of a camera he constantly searches for how an individual can feel as much fear as the suicidal man did. This journey leads him into the seedy underbelly of his Japanese city. He discovers animal-like creatures and decides to take one of them home. Eventually he learns that the creature needs blood in order to survive. More and more philosophies and horror genres are thrown into the mix and we end up with a completely abstracted film that leaves the viewer jaded.
Vampires, ghosts, supernatural beings and serial killers are all thrown into a bag and mixed up with found footage, stream of consciousness and psychological manifestations. When you shake all of those things up together you are bound to get a convoluted mess. The viewer realizes early on that this film is a bit of an oddball so I began to watch the movie in a much more intellectual manner. Philosophical ideas and names are dropped throughout the film and make the viewer wonder if all of this isn’t just one big theory thrown onto a screen. The idea of technology and our reliance on it is one theory for this film. The constant need for stimulation and our youths' desire to view everything through a screen or a screen of a screen is also apparent. Ultimately, no matter what ideas you come up with for this movie, it is all just one big excuse to try to understand what you just saw.
Can Marebito get away with being jaded and confusing? No. There are very few scares in the film and lovers of J-horror will probably walk away disappointed. There is a disturbing quality to the film that makes you think about it for a long time, but it feels more like an unwanted parasite latching onto your brain rather than a lovely reminder
of how awesome or scary a particular movie was.
So if the film is not enjoyable to watch and isn’t scary is there really any point in anyone watching it? Many people may be attracted to its intellectual qualities and its ability to create a new spin on the vampire genre. It will take a special person to love this movie, but I wouldn’t doubt it if the film's philosophical ideology resonated with some viewers.
Horror is receiving a vampire that isn’t generic in any sense, but it also isn’t unique in the right way. We all know someone who tries way too hard to get noticed and this film isn’t any different. A bunch of lefts doesn’t result in a right and this film's plot will frustrate even the fiercest creatures on horror island.
If you liked Marebito, you might also like The Eye.