Kairo, is it a real scary flick or just another copycat Japanese import? Well, maybe a little bit of both. Allow me to explain. The new trend in Japanese horror? "Scary" visuals and deadpan seriousness has replaced the disturbing and shocking gore with slapstick comedy interludes. The question at hand is whether or not this is a fair trade, or are we just happy to finally see something different. Blame The Ring series, because these flicks are starting to become a dime a dozen. Yes Kairo has some extremely creepy visuals, and it definitely verges on scary, but alas, the film is not without its problems, and the whole experience ends up being less than wholly satisfying.
A group of grad students are under siege, as they each become mesmerized one by one by a bizarre web site. Ghostly images and voices from no where followed by the line of text that reads "do you want to encounter a ghost?" Soon after the person viewing the page succumbs to a swift and apparent "suicide". If you think it sounds like just about every other shocker to come out of Japan recently, well, unfortunately your right. The only thing unique Kairo has to offer is a two-hour running time, which in my estimation, seemed way to long. Don't get me wrong, Kairo is not without it's charms. As I said earlier, there are some creepy as hell visuals, and the use of voices emanating from the surround speakers, is enough to make you shift in your seat. However, when all is said and done, the film is too preachy (all about loneliness and ghosts not wanting to overpopulate their dimension, huh?) and ultimately leaves you unsatisfied, and hungry for a cheeseburger (well, maybe that last part was just me). Ultimately Kairo didn't leave me with much of a first impression, perhaps I'll need to revisit the film at a later date, and I'll return with a different perspective. I had high hopes, so let's just say that this ant was not able to move the rubber-tree plant, or something like that.
Although the film falls a bit flat, the presentation on DVD does not. The source material is very clean, barely a hint of print damage can be found. Colors are stable, but they're not going to blow you away (not surprising for a Japanese import, the compositions are almost always flat). Sound is presented in a very nice 5.1 mix with crisp and clear dialogue. Surrounds are used minimally, but when they are used, look out. The sound is never overpowering, but it can be scary as hell as distorted voices seem to come out of nowhere. One of the highlights of the film was definitely the use of sound. Perhaps seeing Kairo in a darkened theater is the ticket. The removable English subs are nice and readable, and appear to be well translated. No "dub"-titles here folks.
Extras? We don't need no stinkin' extras. That's right gang nada, zip, zilch, and the big ole' goose egg.
Overall, we have a fine presentation, unfortunately the film itself left me feeling a bit empty. You could do worse, but I think you could also do better with the likes of Ring, Suicide Club (when it's released on DVD), or Horror Hotline.
Reminder: This disc is a region 3 encoded DVD. Therefore, if you do decide to give it a gander, you'll have to be able to play multi-regions on your player, in order to "enjoy" it.