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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD region 2. Chelsea Films.

The Shock Labyrinth 3DFrom Takashi Shimizu, director of The Grudge, comes an entertaining, if not exactly ground-breaking slice of J-Horror, with the added dimension of 3D - Japan's first live-action foray into the format.

The Shock Labyrinth (as it's titled onscreen) is based around a real theme park attraction, The Haunted Hospital - the world's largest haunted house show. You might sneer at this, but if Disney can grind three movies out of a similar gimmick, then why not? It does at least provide an impressively creepy set for the supernatural action to take place in.

The film follows a group of friends who find themselves drawn back to the scene of a long-forgotten childhood tragedy when a long-lost member of their group reappears. Trapped in the maze-like haunted house, they find themselves confronting the horrors of the past as vengeful spirits return to take revenge - or do they?

The Shock Labyrinth 3DAs past and present combine, the story twists and turns - not always convincingly or coherently, it must be said. But this feels like a story that is deliberately vague and confusing, toying with your perceptions as it takes its characters through assorted strange and spooky situations. Not everything works - I'm not sure why anyone thought that a bunny rabbit backpack was going to put the fear of God into anyone other than the most extreme leporiphobic, and the scenes of the exhibition dummies coming to life is a little too close to zombie cliche to really work. But on the whole, there is always something interesting going on visually, and enough mysterious elements to make it a worthwhile and fun viewing experience, with enough weird and eerie moments to keep most J-Horror fans satisfied.

Inevitably, the 3D is a mixed blessing on a TV screen - the red and blue lenses wash out the colour and the 3D effect is only partially successful (particularly as your eyes keep flicking to the subtitles and losing focus). There are a few striking moments, but on the whole it's a distraction more than a pleasure (I can imagine it was pretty impressive theatrically). Luckily, the two-disc set also contains the flat version, so you have the choice. The DVD also comes with several interview and behind-the-scenes clips that are good fun and round the package out nicely.




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