The Neighbor No. 13

Showing at Grand Illusion, Fri., March 10–Thurs., March 16. Rated R. 115 minutes.

With the popularity of arty J-horror films at an all-time high, one wouldn't be surprised if an American remake of Yasuo Inoue's debut feature popped up tomorrow. Unfortunately this film neither shocks nor terrifies. Oguri Shun plays troubled young Juzo, who's still struggling with childhood memories of being bullied, the defining incident being when acid is poured on his face. His scars heal as an adult, but his psychotic alter ego (played by famed kabuki artist Nakamura Shido) appears when he ends up working with the worst of the bullies. No. 13, as this doppelgänger is known in the original '90s manga series, then turns into a rampant and even more twisted Tyler Durden–esque killer. No. 13 hides in a gloomy, dilapidated shack, which Juzo "visits" when the anger starts welling up inside him—could the symbolism be any more obvious? Shido's manic cackles and strange, throaty noises are like The Grudge creature having an orgasm. Speaking of which, the film's climax, a fight between No. 13 and the bully, is so ineptly staged that you can't help bursting into laughter. No. 13 flails a tai chi sword around like a blindfolded kid searching for the piñata, while the bully silently and passively shuffles around like he's defending himself against a warm breeze. The rest of Inoue's directing isn't much better. Let's just cast James Franco and Shane West in the remake right now. For once, it won't be a desecration of the original.

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