the frighteners

Room Laundering (2018) / Fair use doctrine.If you were told you were about to watch a film that is one-part Beetlejuice and one-part The Frighteners but produced by a Japanese filmmaker, would it leave you wondering how something like that could possibly work and what kind of hot mess you’d be left with unspooling before your very cynical eyeballs? The answer, in this case, is co-writer/director Kenji Katagiri’s Room Laundering, a quirky, geeky, unexpectedly charming ‘dramedy’ about grief, loss, coming of age, and finally coming into your own against all of the obstacles that life happens to throw your way…oh, and yeah, it has a few ghosts in it.

Co-written with Tatsuya Umemoto, Room Laundering is the usual story about a very unusual twenty-year-old girl named Mitsuko, “Miko” for short (the winsome Elaiza Ikeda, who could be the Japanese version of Winona Ryder’s Lydia Deetz.) Seemingly dogged by bad luck, after her father died and her mother disappeared when she was a kid, she grew up with her grandmother, who also promptly kicked the bucket when Miko was eighteen. Being the only family she has left, her uncle, Goro (Joe Odagiri) takes her in, and also puts her to work for him in a rather…strange enterprise.

You see, there’s a regulation that says if any untimely deaths take place inside a residence, any potential tenants who intend to move in must be informed of the event. Nobody said WHEN they have to be told, so in order to avoid the money-losing possibility of having people not move into your place at all, you talk to Goro, who then has Miko move in, live there for a time and then leave, giving the place a new lease on life as a rental (no pun intended.) The process is nicknamed “room laundering,” similar to money laundering, but it’s dealing with properties instead.

Oh, and one other wrinkle, by the way – the tenants can’t see or communicate with the restless spirits of the late tenants in these places…but Miko can. (A silly duck lamp, a gift from Miko’s childhood, serves as the indicator of when spirits are present.) Which has resulted in her having very little communication or relationships with living people – not that she minds all that much. The life of being a nomadic medium of sorts seems to suit her, thank you very much.

Things seem to change radically for Miko, however, with the latest two “hauntings” she’s had to deal with. The first is the spirit of a goofy dead punk-rocker named Kimihiko (Kiyohiko Shibukawa), who slit his wrists in the bathtub of one of the places that Miko is ‘laundering’ (and his injuries make for a gross if hysterically funny Tim Burtonesque sight gag).

The second and more serious case is the next apartment, which finds Miko dealing with something she hasn’t before: a murder victim. The ghost in question here is that of Yuki Chikamoto (Kaoru Mitsumune), an office worker who threw herself into cosplay and social media in her off-hours. It’s her gruesome murder (shown mostly offscreen) that opens the movie and her style of haunting that’s closest to what we’ve come to expect in J-horror films like The Grudge and The Ring. But even that is handled with a lighter-than-expected touch by Katagiri.

Miko’s encounters with the murdered ghost of Yuki also brings Yuki’s next-door neighbor Akito (Kentaro) into her orbit. Guilt-ridden by his lack of concern for his former neighbor, grocery store manager Akito has no plans to make the same mistake twice, and in spite of his awkwardness around her, remains determined to get to know Miko a bit better, even though she herself is sworn not to break the number one commandment of her ‘job’, which is “no fraternization with the neighbors.”

To say that Akito changes everything for Miko is a complete understatement. As he begins to gradually break down her barriers, she starts to emerge from the shell of her ‘weird’ existence, discovering that dealing with the living really isn’t as bad as all that…until, of course, the subplot kicks in, where she finally decides to go above and beyond the call of her usual duties to help out both Kimihiko and Yuki, which brings the movie to a tense-yet-funny, and finally satisfying conclusion.

Neither quite as ‘out-there’ as Beetlejuice nor as intense as Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners, Room Laundering takes a more sentimental approach to the like-minded material. Katagiri’s empathy for his characters really shows here, revealing a bit at a time, the layered personalities of each one. Even the supposedly nihilistic Kimihiko and the allegedly self-absorbed Yuki are shown to be a lot more sympathetic than one would think from first impressions.

Especially funny and touching are the interactions that Miko has with the ghost of a dead former classmate and friend, who has the sensibilities of a horny twenty-something man, trapped forever in the form of the grade-schooler he was when he was hit by a car and killed.

The most surprising aspect of the film is how it expresses a belief in the humanity of the living, and yes, even the dead, just when you think that the world is little more than a revolving, never-ending ball of ‘suck.’

The performances are engaging, and the story, though familiar, does a good job of keeping you guessing about characters’ intentions and just exactly how and where Yuki will end up. Katagiri’s direction is sure-footed, as he manages to walk that thin line between pathos and having things become way too maudlin to enjoy.

Room Laundering gets a very solid three-and-a-half out of five stars from me, with a strong recommendation to those who usually avoid J-horror as being too “gross” or “creepy”.

MOVIE REVIEW: Room Laundering (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Room Laundering (2018)

Room Laundering (2018) / Fair use doctrine.If you were told you were about to watch a film that is one-part Beetlejuice and one-part The Frighteners but produced by a Japanese filmmaker, would it leave you wondering how something like that could possibly work and what kind of hot mess you’d be left with unspooling before your very cynical eyeballs? The answer, in this case, is co-writer/director Kenji Katagiri’s Room Laundering, a quirky, geeky, unexpectedly charming ‘dramedy’ about grief, loss, coming of age, and finally coming into your own against all of the obstacles that life happens to throw your way…oh, and yeah, it has a few ghosts in it.

Co-written with Tatsuya Umemoto, Room Laundering is the usual story about a very unusual twenty-year-old girl named Mitsuko, “Miko” for short (the winsome Elaiza Ikeda, who could be the Japanese version of Winona Ryder’s Lydia Deetz.) Seemingly dogged by bad luck, after her father died and her mother disappeared when she was a kid, she grew up with her grandmother, who also promptly kicked the bucket when Miko was eighteen. Being the only family she has left, her uncle, Goro (Joe Odagiri) takes her in, and also puts her to work for him in a rather…strange enterprise.

You see, there’s a regulation that says if any untimely deaths take place inside a residence, any potential tenants who intend to move in must be informed of the event. Nobody said WHEN they have to be told, so in order to avoid the money-losing possibility of having people not move into your place at all, you talk to Goro, who then has Miko move in, live there for a time and then leave, giving the place a new lease on life as a rental (no pun intended.) The process is nicknamed “room laundering,” similar to money laundering, but it’s dealing with properties instead.

Oh, and one other wrinkle, by the way – the tenants can’t see or communicate with the restless spirits of the late tenants in these places…but Miko can. (A silly duck lamp, a gift from Miko’s childhood, serves as the indicator of when spirits are present.) Which has resulted in her having very little communication or relationships with living people – not that she minds all that much. The life of being a nomadic medium of sorts seems to suit her, thank you very much.

Things seem to change radically for Miko, however, with the latest two “hauntings” she’s had to deal with. The first is the spirit of a goofy dead punk-rocker named Kimihiko (Kiyohiko Shibukawa), who slit his wrists in the bathtub of one of the places that Miko is ‘laundering’ (and his injuries make for a gross if hysterically funny Tim Burtonesque sight gag).

The second and more serious case is the next apartment, which finds Miko dealing with something she hasn’t before: a murder victim. The ghost in question here is that of Yuki Chikamoto (Kaoru Mitsumune), an office worker who threw herself into cosplay and social media in her off-hours. It’s her gruesome murder (shown mostly offscreen) that opens the movie and her style of haunting that’s closest to what we’ve come to expect in J-horror films like The Grudge and The Ring. But even that is handled with a lighter-than-expected touch by Katagiri.

Miko’s encounters with the murdered ghost of Yuki also brings Yuki’s next-door neighbor Akito (Kentaro) into her orbit. Guilt-ridden by his lack of concern for his former neighbor, grocery store manager Akito has no plans to make the same mistake twice, and in spite of his awkwardness around her, remains determined to get to know Miko a bit better, even though she herself is sworn not to break the number one commandment of her ‘job’, which is “no fraternization with the neighbors.”

To say that Akito changes everything for Miko is a complete understatement. As he begins to gradually break down her barriers, she starts to emerge from the shell of her ‘weird’ existence, discovering that dealing with the living really isn’t as bad as all that…until, of course, the subplot kicks in, where she finally decides to go above and beyond the call of her usual duties to help out both Kimihiko and Yuki, which brings the movie to a tense-yet-funny, and finally satisfying conclusion.

Neither quite as ‘out-there’ as Beetlejuice nor as intense as Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners, Room Laundering takes a more sentimental approach to the like-minded material. Katagiri’s empathy for his characters really shows here, revealing a bit at a time, the layered personalities of each one. Even the supposedly nihilistic Kimihiko and the allegedly self-absorbed Yuki are shown to be a lot more sympathetic than one would think from first impressions.

Especially funny and touching are the interactions that Miko has with the ghost of a dead former classmate and friend, who has the sensibilities of a horny twenty-something man, trapped forever in the form of the grade-schooler he was when he was hit by a car and killed.

The most surprising aspect of the film is how it expresses a belief in the humanity of the living, and yes, even the dead, just when you think that the world is little more than a revolving, never-ending ball of ‘suck.’

The performances are engaging, and the story, though familiar, does a good job of keeping you guessing about characters’ intentions and just exactly how and where Yuki will end up. Katagiri’s direction is sure-footed, as he manages to walk that thin line between pathos and having things become way too maudlin to enjoy.

Room Laundering gets a very solid three-and-a-half out of five stars from me, with a strong recommendation to those who usually avoid J-horror as being too “gross” or “creepy”.


Posted by Samuel Glass in COMING SOON, FAMILY HORROR, HORROR COMEDIES, MOVIE REVIEWS, PARANORMAL, 0 comments
HISTORY OF HORROR: JULY

HISTORY OF HORROR: JULY

By John Roisland & Woofer McWooferson

Join House of Tortured Souls as we celebrate significant dates in the history of horror in July. Click on thumbnails for full images.

July 1 - 7

 

July - Trilogy of Terror-1975 Karen Black07/01/1942
Karen Black (actress in many horror films) born

 

July - Grace Kelly and James Stewart in Rear Window (1954)07/02/1997
James Stewart (actor in Rear Window (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and Vertigo (1958)), (b. 1908)

 

July - Day of the Dead07/03/1985
Day of the Dead released theatrically

 

July - Silent Hill 3 video game07/03/2003
Silent Hill 3 released on the PlayStation and PC in Japan

 

July - Adam Brooks07/03/????
Adam Brooks, known for Astron-6, Manborg, and Father's Day, born

 

July - Scary Movie 207/04/2001
Scary Movie 2 released theatrically

 

July - Battle Royale II07/05/2003
Battle Royale II: Requiem released theatrically

 

July - Janet Leigh07/06/1927
Janet Leigh, actress in Psycho, born

 

July - Blood Feast07/06/1963
Blood Feast released theatrically

 

July - The Descent07/06/2005
The Descent released theatrically

 

July - The Mummy's Ghost07/07/1944
The Mummy's Ghost released theatrically

 

July - Scary Movie07/07/2000
Scary Movie released theatrically

July 8 - 14

July - The Raven07/08/ 1935
The Raven released
theatrically

 

July - Phantasm 207/08/1988
Phantasm 2 released
theatrically

 

July - Dark Water 200507/08/2005
Dark Water released
theatrically

 

July - Dean Koontz07/09/1945
Dean Koontz (writer Phantoms (1989), Odd Thomas (2013)) born

 

 

July - Fred Gwynne07/10/1926
Fred Gwynne (actor in The Munsters (1964) and Pet Sematary (1989)) born (d. 1993)

 

 

July - Michael Rosenbaum07/11/1972
Michael Rosenbaum (actor in Urban Legend (1998) and Cursed (2005)) born

 

July - Tod Browning07/12/1880
Tod Browning (director of Dracula (1931) and Freaks (1931)) born (d. 1962)

 

July - Lon Chaney, Jr07/12/1973
Lon Chaney, Jr. (actor in Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) and The Wolfman (1941)) dies (b. 1906)

 
July - Michelle Rodriguez07/12/1978
Michelle Rodriguez (actress in Resident Evil (2002) and The Breed (2006)) born
 

July - Halloween: Resurrection07/12/2002
Halloween: Resurrection released theatrically

 

July - Stellan Skarsgard

Image courtesy WireImage.com

07/13/1968
Stellan Skarsgård (actor in Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)) born

 

July - Sid Haig07/14/1939
Sid Haig (actor in The Brotherhood of Blood(2007), The Devils Rejects (2005),
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)) born is born

 

July - The Chronicle07/14/2001
The Chronicle premieres on television

July 15 - 21

 

July - Larry Cohen07/15/1941
Larry Cohen (writer, director, producer known for of Phone Booth (2002), A Return to Salem's Lot (1987), The Stuff (1985)) born

 

July - Kingdom Hospital07/15/2004
Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital ends its run on television

 

July - The Fly07/16/1958
The Fly released theatrically

 

 

July - Jaws: The Revenge07/17/1987
Jaws: The Revenge released theatrically

 

 

July - Eight Legged Freaks07/17/2002
Eight Legged Freaks released
theatrically

 

 

July - Prom Night07/18/1980
Prom Night released theatrically

 

July - Aliens

07/18/1986
Aliens released theatrically

 

July - Arachnophobia07/18/1990
Arachnophobia released theatrically

 

 

July - Hideo Nakata07/19/1961
Hideo Nakata (director of Ringu (1998), Ringu 2 (1999), and Dark Water (2002)) born

 

June - Tales from the Crypt (original)07/19/1996
Tales from the Crypt ends its run on television

 

July - The Frighteners07/19/1996
The Frighteners released theatrically

 

July - The Breed07/19/2001
The Breed released theatrically

 

July - The Conjuring07/19/1964
The Conjuring released theatrically

 

July - The Devil Rides Out07/20/1968
The Devil Rides Out released theatrically

 

July - Dracula07/20/1979
Dracula released theatrically

 

July - Castlevania Dracula X07/20/1995
Castlevania: Dracula X released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in North America

 

July - The Haunting07/20/1999
The Haunting released theatrically

 

July - Jeepers Creepers07/20/2001
Jeepers Creepers released theatrically

 

 

July - Castlevania Dracula X07/21/1972
Castlevania: Dracula X released
on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan

 

 

July 22 - 28

 

July - James Whale07/22/1889
James Whale (director of The Invisible Man (1931), Frankenstein (1931), and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)) born (d. 1957)

 

July - The Hills Have Eyes07/22/1977
The Hills Have Eyes released theatrically

July - Orca07/22/1977
Orca released theatrically

 

July - Jaws 3-D07/22/1983
Jaws 3-D released theatrically

July - The Devil's Rejects07/22/2005
Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects released theatrically

 

 

July - Castlevania Chronicles - Japan07/23/1993
Castlevania Chronicles released on the X68000 in Japan

 

 

July - Chris Sarandon07/24/1942
Chris Sarandon (actor in The Sentinel (1977), Fright Night (1985), and Bordello of Blood (1996)) born

 

 

July - Ileana Douglas07/25/1965
Illeana Douglas (actress in Cape Fear (1991) and Stir of Echoes (1999)) born

 

 

July - Michael C. Williams07/25/1973
Michael C. Williams (actor in The Blair Witch Project) born

 

July - Night of the Seagulls07/26/1976
Night of the Seagulls released theatrically

 

 

July - The Amityville Horror07/27/1979
The Amityville Horror released theatrically

 

 

July - Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan07/28/1989
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan released theatrically

 

July - Deep Blue Sea07/28/1999
Deep Blue Sea released theatrically

 

July 29 - 31

 

July - Zombi 307/29/1987
Zombi 3 released theatrically

 

July - Cherry Falls07/29/2000
Cherry Falls released theatrically

 

July - The Blair Witch Project07/30/1999
The Blair Witch Project released theatrically

 

 

July - Mario Bava07/31/1914
Mario Bava (director of Black Sunday and The Girl Who Knew Too Much) born (d. 1980)

 

July - Invisible Agent07/31/1942
Invisible Agent released theatrically

 

July - Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man07/31/1951
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man released theatrically

 

July - The Lost Boys07/31/1987
The Lost Boys released theatrically

 

July - Buffy the Vampire Slayer07/31/1992
Buffy the Vampire Slayer released theatrically

Keep it Evil

Posted by John Roisland in HORROR HISTORY, 0 comments