Kakashi: Scarecrow. This isn't the first time I'm posted on this movie. I left initial thoughts 18 months ago after my first viewing. Being on something of an asian kick lately, I wanted to do a little write up on this title, expanding a bit upon my first thoughts. While watching this film today I was first struck by how much it bucks horror genre conventions. These conventions go much farther than we usually allow ourselves to realize. For instance, gore and nudity are basically simple conventions we expect in the genre, along with "jump" scares, and as far as asian movies go, long black-haired ghosts. These are all things that are basically overdone, as the genre tried to come up with standard frames on which they can could hang the rags of their stories. Along with these conventions, there is a basic convention of cinema which dictates that if you don't have a big beginning, grabbing your audience in the opening moments, then you'll probably lose them completely (bookended, of course, by the big finish). Well, Kakashi is interesting in that it bucks most of those conventions. There's no big start here, we simply have a girl going to find her brother whom has been missing for a week. No overt drama, no explosions, ghostly apparitions, or blood. Just.... gone. Throughout the film, it basically stays a steady course in a middle ground somewhere, never going fully over into true horror, or pathos. At first glance then, this one might feel a little flat. I've now come to realize that it's not flat at all, rather, it simply continually fails to adopt those conventions. And sometimes we crave the conventions, we want to see someone die violently, we want to get full-on horrified. Kakashi isn't that kind of film though, so you have to visit it on its own grounds. The story itself is a mish-mash of other, more familiar stories. Brought together in a foreign climate which makes the backwoods of the wilderness feel even further away, and you have a mystery of location as much of story. Influences here? Well, The Monkey's Paw, Stepford Wives, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and yes, any number of zombi flicks, could all lay claim to some portion, big and small, of Kakashi. However, stripping out the overt horror, and bringing the story into other emotions, gives us a different flavor. Essentially, the central emotion plumbed here isn't fear but instead is love. That takes the story into another realm entirely. Example - Night of the Living Dead is a well known film, where the dead come back to not only haunt us, but also to eat us. Fear is the prime factor here. But how about a film where we wanted the dead to come back, where we wanted our deceased loved ones to come join us again, to live with us, to love us, to allow us to care for them? Same film, different emotion being explored. The story here has basically already been covered. Brother goes missing, sister goes looking for him. She finds a letter in his apartment, a letter from a girl who had once wanted to date him. The sister had come between the girl and her brother for reasons we never know. The letter came from a small village, and the sister thinks that is probably where he has gone.... so she goes too...... Based on Japanese folklore, the story exists here to show us the strength of love (not often a fully developed theme in the horror genre, usually it's played out rather superficially by throwing in a crying mother figure). it explores how far people will go to have their loved ones back, while also suggesting that the dead are not all placidly waiting for resurrection. The main problem we have coming to this film is that, well, it's just not scary enough. But then, I'm not wholly convinced it was supposed to be. It's not a complex story, and all those bombastic conventions are absent. From the absence of the big opening, to the basically absent big finish, watching a film like this can leave us a little empty. However, I've come to acept this is my fault more than anything else. I feel that way because I want those pre-conceived notions of what a horror film should include satisfied, and sometimes it seems, I'll sacrifice originality to get it. Stupid of me really. The locations used are excellent, and some shots of a field of scarecrows is actually quite haunting. It never feels forced, it never feels as though it's trying to impress you, so some might find it a tad lazy. I guess I did at first, until this rethink. I hesitate to go ahead and highly recommend the film here. You've got to be willing to go with the emotional flow of the film. And besides, I'm not pretending this is a superb picture. However, as Asian cinema goes, on reflection, this does offer an interesting story outside of the more standard ghost tale, and will likely suit an audience looking for something a bit different. Middling. But good.