Saturday, September 09, 2006

Forbidden Siren (Sairen)

Forbidden Siren is based upon the Siren 2 Playstation 2 (so many 2s) game. Like most video game turned movies, I would say the majority don't translate into a different medium really well. And that goes for this one too, painfully.

There's a pretty long prologue which explains and sets the premise for the story, and the mysterious island on which a writer (Leo Morimoto) and his children, daughter Yuki (Yui Ichikawa) and son Hideo (Jun Nishiyama) come to move into. The villagers don't look all too friendly, and soon enough, sound advice is given about the siren on the island, to stay indoors once the siren starts wailing.

Naturally and slowly, things start to go bump, and our siblings go on a mission beating around the bush to discover exactly what is happening on this unfriendly island with its strange inhabitants. But in truth, you will not bother with what's going on, as folklore and fairytales get thrown in to convolute the plot even more. What was really pushing it into the realm of bad comedy are its unwittingly ill-placed-out-of-the-norm moments which just drew pitiful giggles at its sheer stupidity, until it's explained much later. It's one thing trying to come up and present something smart, but another thing doing it convincingly and with loopholes covered.

Despite it clocking in under 90 minutes - I think it's a horror movie phenomenon to have that as a runtime benchmark - it gives that almost two hour feel with its slow buildup to tell what it wants to. Things begin to pick up toward the last 20 minutes, but it's a classic case of too little too late.

What saves the movie is how it changes tack and its revelation at the end. Again this is a common device used to try and elevate a seemingly simple horror movie into something a little bit extra in the hope of wowing an audience. It turned out rather satisfactorily, but leaves a bad aftertaste as you'll feel cheated somewhat. There are two ways a twist will make you feel - it either elevates the movie to a memorable level, or provides you with that hokey feeling. Unfortunately Forbidden Siren belonged more to the latter.

The saving grace will be its cinematography with its use of light, shadows and mirrors, but I will be that explicit - it's still not worth the time, so better to avoid this.

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