The Complex

THE COMPLEX クロユリ団地 (Japan, 2013)
North American Premiere
106 minutes, HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by: Hideo Nakata
Starring: Atsuko Maeda, Hiroki Narimiya, Masanobu Katsumura, Sosei Tanaka

We’re as surprised as anyone else to be showing a J-horror movie in this year’s line-up because, let’s face it, the genre is as dead as disco. But, like disco, some of its biggest stars can still deliver virtuoso thrills, and no one has the chops of Hideo Nakata, the director who kicked the whole thing off with The Ring 15 years ago. With THE COMPLEX he breathes new life into these spooky old lungs, delivering a movie that starts as a bright and cheerful family drama then putrefies into something much softer, wetter, and darker.

Atsuko Maeda (lead singer of the enormously popular group, AKB48) is a nursing student whose shiny, happy family moves into a crumbling old apartment complex. Mom loves the place, dad is his grumpy old self, and her younger brother is a big ball of cute. Atsuko even bonds with a lonely little kid out by the playground who seems to have no adult supervision. The only bummer is the noise from the adjoining apartment. Every morning, an alarm clock from next door wakes Atsuko up early, and every night there’s a weird scratching sound coming from the walls. Finally, her desperation for a good night’s sleep overcoming her natural shyness, Atsuko ventures next door and discovers that the elderly neighbor has died while clawing his way through her bedroom wall with his fingernails.

But the removal of his corpse doesn’t spell the end of her problems because a few days later she comes home from school and her entire family has disappeared. And this is where THE COMPLEX truly lives up to its title becoming a wildly complex freak show of exorcisms gone bad, evil children, nightmarish time loops, occult cleaning services, and reanimated corpses. But what makes this movie stand out is its depiction of modern day Japan as a nation of lonely people. From the old man who dies next door with no family to claim his body, to the kid on the playground whose parents are too busy to give him a curfew, to Atsuko herself who doesn’t have any friends at school and whose interactions with her parents are weirdly formal and unaffectionate, in THE COMPLEX modern life is the most horrifying thing of all, a place where we’re all just lonely ghosts going through the paces and when we’re in trouble no one is around to hear our cries for help.


Tuesday July 9, 9:45PM Walter Reade Theater Buy Tickets