Signed up for a free trial of Shudder specifically to watch Noroi: The Curse, a twisted horror mockumentary from Koji Shiraishi, the director of Sadako vs. Kayako.
Noroi succeeds where many efforts in this subgenre fail because it does not attempt to pass itself off as recently recovered raw footage. Instead, it represents the edited video diaries of a paranormal researcher investigating a long-forgotten demonic entity, allowing Shiraishi to both justify the camera’s constant presence and trim out the less relevant/interesting bits.
Wisely, the filmmaker informs the audience upfront that our intrepid heroes have all died or vanished under mysterious circumstances, lending even the initially generic “haunted house” shenanigans—disembodied voices, sleepwalking, and vague, briefly glimpsed apparitions—a foreboding atmosphere. The result is an agonizingly slow but deeply satisfying build to some truly delicious Lovecraftian horror, complete with remote villages, ancient rituals, and men and women driven mad by cosmic truths beyond the realm of human comprehension. Like the similarly-themed REC, Noroi taps into the universal fear of the unknown and unknowable, lulling the viewer into a false sense of security before abruptly changing the rules of the story—often with tragic, terrifying consequences.
[Originally written September 10, 2017.]