I don’t say this very often, but tonight, I watched an irredeemably awful film. I was in the mood for something dumb and fun after a somewhat exhausting day, but Michael Barrett’s Temple is quite simply too stupid to be even remotely enjoyable. This is a travelogue disguised as a horror movie—the only scary thing about it is how it makes an hour and twenty minutes feel like nearly three and a half.
The “narrative,” such as it is, revolves around a trio of American tourists investigating an allegedly haunted Shinto shrine deep in the mountains of Japan. In theory, it sounds like a promising enough premise (if nothing else, it suggests a compelling cultural conflict); in practice, however, it involves a whole lot of aimless wandering through crowded city streets, dense forest trails, and abandoned mine shafts—every second of it completely devoid of suspense, atmosphere, or meaningful characterization. Instead of anything resembling substance, it relies on nonsensical and contradictory plot twists, admittedly gorgeous cinematography (though it would take considerable effort to make the Japanese countryside look unattractive), and cheap jump scares that are too incompetently edited to be startling. Even mocking this cinematic trash fire brought my brother and I no joy; I’m sorry I suggested it over literally anything else on Netflix.