Watching both of the films, both the original Kurosawa and the unfortunate remake, I was struck with a boredom as horrifying as the films were intended to be.
There were all the classic horror features in the original Kairo, the brooding atmosphere, the discrepancies between the seemingly normal locales and the “scary” events, the high pitched and off key music, it is all there. But it misses the most important conceit of all horror films; sympathy. We have to be sympathetic to the characters that we are watching, otherwise we start rooting for whatever nebulous evil is attacking or viewers. Using modern films as examples, we can see the establishment of likable people. The Conjuring stars a happy family, as well as a scarred couple. The Evil Dead occurs when a group heads out into the woods in an attempt to ween one of their members off of heroin addiction. Noble goals.
The point is, I never felt any sympathy for these characters. They actually annoyed me. Harue went on and on about how lonely she was, despite the presence of someone that genuinely seemed to care about her. And then she becomes disturbingly happy over a voyeuristic ghost, which should assuage her fear of being alone, right? No, she commits suicide. Junko undergoes a similar ennui, despite having Michi kindly watching over her. To me, these people are as lonely as they are because they’re just too selfish to notice anyone else. This doesn’t involve technology.
And then there was the whole confusing “Hades ran out of space” debacle. Fine. Then they manifest inside computers, which means they’re made of… electrons? Photons? Reasonably, one of those two. And no, I won’t accept “ectoplasm” as an answer, because ghosts have inconsistent properties. Sometimes they have mass, other times they don’t. When people turn to ash, they emit radiation (most likely gamma, which are photons) to create those shadows. If they are photons, then they don’t have mass, how can the afterlife overfill? If they do have mass, how do they move throughout the internet? Are ghosts simply information? Why are they so ill defined? Yes, I’m nitpicking, but only because the ghost motif appears to be a lazy excuse to convey the medium of “technology bad”. And after HUM2305, I’m just tired of hearing about how technology is bad.