AKA Remember Member.
Having stumbled across Re/Member while trawling through the "horror" choices on Netflix, I was immediately intrigued by the plot summary telling me that the film was about a high school student and friends being stuck in a time loop that will only end when they collect seven body parts and put them back together. That sounds like macabre fun, right? I should have suspected something was off from the fact that I had never heard anyone else mention this film, but I thought I might be discovering a hidden gem. I was wrong.
Kanna Hashimoto plays a lonely young girl named Asuka, and she is the one thrown into the challenging time loop with a number of her peers, most notably Takahiro (played by Gordon Maeda), someone she used to be good friends with some years ago. It doesn't take long for the group to figure out that they've been selected for the "Body Search" challenge, which is the scenario described above. There's a little girl after them though, a deadly spirit who becomes more and more dangerous to the group as they strive to complete the challenge.
Directed by Eiichirô Hasumi and written by Harumi Doki, two names I am not familiar with, this is yet another Japanese film that may already be familiar to fans of the manga it was based on, written by Welzard and Katsutoshi Murase. I can see this being a decent tale in that form, considering how it allows for so many possibilities, possibly even changing the main group of characters whenever some succeed in completing the challenge (or maybe not, I've never read any of it), but the film version starts to falter just when you think it should step up the fun and thrills.
The main characters are all perfectly fine, although it's only really Asuka and Takahiro who stand out, but the central concept is wasted. You barely get a few of the usual time loop "signposts", there's not enough time spent with characters having to convince others of what is going on, and everything quickly turns into yet another film about "this urban legend is real, but we can help this spirit rest if we solve the mystery". I don't mind films like that, and some of the best Japanese horrors are in that vein, of course, but I had hoped for something a bit more unique from Re/Member.
Morisaki is a likeable lead, and Maeda is good, if a bit bland, while the rest of the supporting cast do what is asked of them, namely running about school corridors looking scared. The characters may not be that memorable, but that isn’t the fault of the cast.
Despite the script issues, most of the blame seems to lie with director Hasumi. He doesn’t do anything to elevate the material, with a lot of the film just showing various teens in underlit environments while the growing monster menace remains hidden by shadows and editing. There’s also an unforgivable final sequence of “the lead character just needs to do one thing to end it all, but decides to turn back and mourn and waste time doing everything but that one thing”.
There are some good moments here and there, including a vision our main character has before the time loop even kicks in, but there are also far too many moments that don’t add anything smart, exciting, or entertaining. I won’t be rushing to give it a rewatch.
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