Japanese Horror made a hallmark in shooting creepy ghost stories with inner city settings and solid human drama. But Hideo Nataka's THE COMPLEX is an unfortunate product of the cliched mystery, suspense and horror that inspires more laughter than scares.
A terribly miscast Atsuko Maeda is in the role of Asuka, a young woman who moves with her family into a creepy apartment block. At night she hears some strange scratching noises from the neighbour apartment. When she decides to investigate she gets much more trouble than she bargained for.
The first half of the movie has a few genuinely scary moments, but when the story makes a u-turn, giving away its biggest secret half way through the film, everything collapses like a house of cards.
THE COMPLEX is definitely not for international viewer with weird scenes of exorcism and some twists that make you laugh in all the wrong places. The seemingly tragic moment of a little boy being killed when he is accidentally being thrown away with the rubbish seems so ludicrous it cannot be taken seriously. Our heroine is wooden when making unbelievably scared faces and jerky moves (for some actors even a walk across the street is a hard task). The settings are creepy but photography is lazy and cheap, with so little happening on screen one may think its a recording of a stage play.
Hideo Nakata is a legend of Japanese Horror with his two classics THE RING and DARK WATERS successfully re-made in America and known by everyone. But one has to remember that those two were based on two well written novels. In THE COMPLEX Nakata seemingly tries his best tricks to bring back the "ghosts of christmases passed" but with the joke of a script its not bound to happen.
THE COMPLEX highlights all that can go wrong with modern japanese cinema - awkward script, bad acting and cliched scares. Low budget also did not help.
THE COMPLEX was intended to be the story of reunion for two lonely souls. Instead it turned out to be a mess of a few disjointed ideas. There's nothing COMPLEX about it, but keeping it basic shouldn't be a synonym of boring.