Re/member: Japanese Movie Review

I was immediately on board upon seeing the trailer for Re/member because it looked really cool. Besides, who can resist watching a bunch of good looking teens fight to survive a monster that kills them over and over like Groundhog Day?

Synopsis: Asuka (Hashimoto Kanna) is an introverted girl who is generally invisible to her classmates. Takahiro (Maeda Gordon) is the popular basketball star whom kids fawn over. Atsushi (Kamio Fuju) is a recluse who is hurting from a broken dream. Shota (Daigo Kotaro) is a bullied nerd, Rie (Yokota Mayuu) is the goody two shoes class representative while Rumiko (Yamamoto Maika) is seeing an older guy who’s been cheating on her. These six kids are selected by some mysterious force to do the Body Search every midnight where they repeat the same day over and over until they find the decapitated remains of a slain eight year old.

There was a very B movie feel to the movie when it attempted to expand its backstory to include European lore. However, the first salvo of the movie where it served up jump scares, blood and gore mercilessly in the first night made me hold out hope that perhaps the movie had something up its sleeve.

It was all well and good. The stakes were clear, until it was not. Because they kept dying over and over again, the sense of urgency vanished halfway through the movie when it switched gears and suddenly became a slice of life film with friendship bonding and a love story to boot. Halfway through the movie, the filmmakers spent precious minutes on extended talks and hangout sessions that had nothing to do with the Red Person, her murderer or the mystery behind Emily. The mission became a joke, so much so that they competed all the parts in a single montage.

I must say that the acting left a lot to be desired and in terms of the female lead character, Asuka was the worst. The entire team was fighting off the monster repeatedly and she had the same instincts in the final night as she did in the first. She reacted slowly, and took no initiative to defend her friends, cowering in the dark instead of stepping up and helping. Her heroics in the end was not enough to atone for all her stupidity.

While I liked the rest of the gang, I think they relied on Takahiro as the main hero too much. He almost singlehandedly did away with the monster on most occasions and he never batted an eyelash in the face of death. Asuka was one lucky person to be liked by such a guy, which made me even more annoyed at her.

I think the movie lost the plot somewhere in between and sought to raise the stakes again in the end in an attempt to regain its lost momentum. However, the ending seemed a bit too clear cut. It seemed that despite the dangers they faced, there was never really any danger of disappearing so it seemed that anyone who invested time and effort on these bunch of teens wasted their time.

I think that Re/member was trying to go for the same formula as South Korea’s All of Us Are Dead. It could have worked if it was released as a series, with more time to delve into the backstory of the Red Person, and the rest of the group, perhaps even the first batch of Body Searchers. However, the length of a feature film is not enough to do everything the movie sought to do and by its end, it seemed like an overly ambitious fragmented ball of mush.

All in all, Re/member was not scary. It was not compelling. It was a hot mess with bad acting and an even worse script. Its only saving grace were its eye candy stars but it was still not enough to console audiences for losing two hours of their life on this nonsense. Its very frustrating because it could have been more if it became more decisive.