The Grudge

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 in October

History of Horror in October

By Woofer McWooferson

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

October 1 - 7


10/01/1968 – Night of the Living Dead (1968)
released theatrically

19680110_Night of the Living Dead / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


19741001_The Texas Chain Saw Massacre / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/01/1974 – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) released
theatrically


10/02/1959 – The Twilight Zone (original series) premieres on television

19591002_The Twilight Zone / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.


19971002_Castlevania: Symphony of the Night / Cover art. Fair use doctrine.

10/02/1997 – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night released on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn in the United States


10/02/2001 – Tremors 3: Back to Perfection released theatrically

20011002_Tremors 3: Back to Perfection / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


20021003_Darkness / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/03/2002 – Darkness released theatrically


10/04/2002 – Red Dragon released theatrically

20021004_Red Dragon / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


20041004_Zombie Honeymoon / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/04/2004 – Zombie Honeymoon released theatrically


10/04/2005 – Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow released on the Nintendo DS in the United States America

20051004_Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow / Cover art. Fair use doctrine.


19191005_Donald Pleasence / © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

10/05/1919 – Donald Pleasence (actor in many horror films) born (d. 1995)


10/05/1952 – Clive Barker (author, director, and artist) born

19521005_Clive Barker / Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard - © WireImage.com - Image courtesy WireImage.com


19621005_Tod Browning / Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

10/05/1962 – Tod Browning (director of Dracula and Freaks) dies (b. 1880)


10/05/1999 – Angel premieres on television

19991005_Angel / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.


20011005_Joy Ride / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/05/2001 – Joy Ride released theatrically


10/05/2005 – Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis premiers on television

20051005_Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.


20051005_Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.

10/05/2005 – Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave premiers on television


10/06/2006 – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning released theatrically

20061006_The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


18491007_Edgar Allan Poe / Public domain.

10/07/1849 – Edgar Allan Poe dies (b. 1809)


10/07/1994 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation released theatrically

19941007_Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

October 8 - 14


20011008_Castlevania Chronicles / Cover art. Fair use doctrine.

10/08/2001 – Castlevania Chronicles released on the PlayStation in North America


10/11/2002 – Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance released on the Game Boy Advance in the European Union

20021011_Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance / Cover art. Fair use doctrine.


19891013_Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/13/1989 – Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers released theatrically


10/13/1998– Fallen released theatrically

19981013_Fallen / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.


20061013_The Grudge 2 / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/13/2006 – The Grudge 2 released theatrically


10/14/1944 – Udo Kier (actor in many horror films) born

19441014_Udo Kier / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.


19941014_Wes Craven's New Nightmare / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.

10/14/1994 – Wes Craven’s New Nightmare released theatrically


10/14/2005 – The Fog (2005) released theatrically

20051014_The Fog / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

October 15 – 21


19811015_The Evil Dead / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/15/1981– The Evil Dead released theatrically


10/16/1987 – Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II released theatrically

19871016_Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


19921016_Candyman / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/16/1992 – Candyman released theatrically


10/16/1998 – Bride of Chucky released theatrically

19981016_Bride of Chucky / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


20031017_The Texas Chainsaw Massacre / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/17/2003 – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) released theatrically


10/18/1976 – Burnt Offerings released theatrically



19801018_Motel Hell / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/18/1980 – Motel Hell released theatrically


10/18/1985 – Re-Animator released theatrically

19851018_Re-Animator / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


19961018_The Dentist / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.

10/18/1996 – The Dentist released theatrically


10/18/2002 – The Ring released theatrically

20021018_The Ring / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


20051018_Day of the Dead 2: Contagium / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.

10/18/2005 – Day of the Dead 2: Contagium released on DVD


10/19/1990 – Night of the Living Dead (1990) released theatrically

19901019_Night of the Living Dead / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


20041019_Zombie Planet / Box artwork. Fair use doctrine.

10/19/2004 – Zombie Planet (1963) released theatrically


10/20/1889 – Bela Lugosi born (d. 1956)

18891020_Bela Lugosi / Image courtesy mptvimages.com


19421020_Night Monster / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/20/1942 – Night Monster released theatrically


10/21/1988 – Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers released theatrically

19881021_Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


20031021_Castlevania: Lament of Innocence / Cover art. Fair use doctrine.

10/21/2003 – Castlevania: Lament of Innocence released on the PlayStation 2 in North America


10/21/2005 – Doom released theatrically

20051021_Doom / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

October 22 - 28


19821022_Halloween III: Season of the Witch / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/22/1982 – Halloween III: Season of the Witch released theatrically


10/22/1988 – Monsters premieres on television

19881022_Monsters / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.


20041022_The Grudge / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/22/2004 – The Grudge released theatrically


10/23/1942 – The Mummy’s Tomb released theatrically

19421023_The Mummy's Tomb / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


19591023_Sam Raimi / Photo by Steve Granitz - © WireImage.com - Image courtesy WireImage.com

10/23/1959 – Sam Raimi (creator of the Evil Dead series of films) born


10/23/1987 – Prince of Darkness released theatrically

19871023_Prince of Darkness / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


19981023_Brimstone / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.

10/23/1998 – Brimstone premieres on television


10/23/2001 – Thir13en Ghosts released theatrically

20011023_Thir13en Ghosts / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


19621024_Eyes Without a Face / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/24/1962 – Eyes Without a Face released theatrically in the United States


10/25/1978 – Halloween released theatrically

19781025_Halloween / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


19931025_Vincent Price / Photo by Gabi Rona - © MPTV - Image courtesy mptvimages.com

10/25/1993 – Vincent Price (actor in many horror films) dies (b. 1911)


10/25/2000 – Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem released on the Nintendo GameCube in Japan

20001025_Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem / Cover art. Fair use doctrine.


19791026_When a Stranger Calls / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/26/1979 – When a Stranger Calls (1979) released theatrically


10/26/2001 – Bones released theatrically

20011026_Bones / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


19891027_Shocker / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/27/1989 – Shocker released theatrically


10/27/1989 – Castlevania: The Adventure released on the Game Boy in Japan

19891027_Castlevania: The Adventure / By Judgesurreal777. Fair use doctrine.


19951027_Vampire in Brooklyn / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/27/1995 – Vampire in Brooklyn released theatrically


10/27/1998 – Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 released theatrically

19981027_Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


19511028_Joe R. Lansdale / By Materialscientist. Fair use doctrine.

10/28/1951 – Joe R. Lansdale (winner of six Bram Stoker Awards for horror fiction) born


10/28/2005 – Saw II released theatrically
20051028_Saw II / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


20051028_Masters of Horror / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.

10/28/2005 – Masters of Horror premieres on television

October 29 -31


10/29/1920 – The Golem: How He Came Into the World released theatrically in Germany

19201029_The Golem: How He Came Into the World / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


19731029_Return of the Blind Dead / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/29/1973 – Return of the Blind Dead released theatrically


10/29/1993 – Return of the Living Dead III released on VHS

19931029_Return of the Living Dead III / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.


19931029_Demon Castle Dracula X: Rondo of Blood / Cover art. Fair use doctrine.

10/29/1993 – Demon Castle Dracula X: Rondo of Blood released on the PC Engine/TurboGrafx 16 in Japan


10/29/2004 – Versus released theatrically

20041029_Versus / Image: IMDb. Fair use doctrine.


20041029_Saw / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/29/2004 – Saw released theatrically


10/30/1938 – The War of the Worlds radio adaptation airs

19381030_The War of the Worlds / Image: Daily News. Fair use doctrine.


19811030_Halloween II / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/30/1981 – Halloween II released theatrically


10/31/1961 – Peter Jackson (director of Bad Taste and Braindead) born

19611031_Peter Jackson / Photo by Tim Whitby - © 2012 Getty Images - Image courtesy gettyimages.com


19741031_Phantom of the Paradise / Theatrical poster. Fair use doctrine.

10/31/1974 – Phantom of the Paradise released theatrically


10/31/1991 – Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan

19911031_Castlevania II: Simon's Quest / By DASHBot. Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR HISTORY, 0 comments