The film begins with a young girl, Yoshimi, as she waits to be collected from kindergarten, watching from inside the school as the other children’s parents come for them. We then cut to an older Yoshimi, who is going through a divorce and hoping to retain custody of her daughter, Ikuko. Mother and daughter move to an old apartment that seems to have a serious damp problem, with puddles of water in the lift and dripping from the ceiling. Yoshimi soon becomes aware of a dark secret relating to one of the former residents of the apartment block and struggles to maintain her sanity as she investigates.
A psychological horror film that is very tightly written and has some great cinematography. The film plays on a sense of foreboding, slowly building tension and dropping clues about what has happened in the apartment block. Early on in the film we are told that Yoshimi suffered a nervous breakdown and was treated for a psychiatric illness (this is said to be caused by her work as a translator of violent novels). This adds to the film because you are never sure if what you are seeing is a product of her delusions, or whether it is real. The acting from the two leads is good and there are plenty of creative scares, shadows on monitor screens, the appearance at several points of a red satchel, and the presence of water throughout. I would rate this higher than a lot of similar ghost stories as it does have a deeper message and is very stylish.
The main theme of the film is abandonment, specifically dealing with the loss of a parent. There are a number of characters in the film who seem to suffer a similar fate. This definitely falls into the category of creepy horror; rather than going for shocks it is more interested in drawing you into the characters world. At the end of the film I felt more a sense of sadness than terror and I think this is the films major strength: it uses horror as the means to tell a fantastic story that will make you think. Don’t go in expecting blood and gore, this is a slow-burner, but it is rewarding at the end.