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Fantasia 2018 Review: Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch

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A stylish haunted house ride

Let's get this out of the way right now: If you're a little girl alone in a creepy hotel at night, whatever you do, don't enter room 666. Age shouldn't even matter. Just don't do it. Parents need to teach their children some common sense.

Izumi (Miho Nakanishi) and Mika (Shiho) were not taught this single important life lesson, and boy do they suffer for it.

Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch
Director: Yudai Yamaguchi
Rating: NR
Release Date: July 21, 2018 (Fantasia)

An angry witch is on the loose in Japan, and she's coming for your soul. How or why she chooses her targets isn't entirely clear, but the ways in which she dispatches them are all pretty cool.

A good portion of Rokuroku is shot like a series of horror shorts where the witch takes the form of a different Japanese demon to kill some unsuspecting victim. She can be a hook-handed Geisha that moves in blurs of speed, she can be a massive gargoyle creature that breathes huge blasts of wind, or (my personal favorite) she can be a sea creature as big as a rotten black whale with a gaping maw of a mouth full of grasping hands for teeth and two evil faces for eyes. There are a wealth of creepy and compelling designs to the witch's many forms, and they make for some chilling sequences.

Most of her victims view a hotel before they die, and this operates as a bridge between each story with Izumi at its center. She meets up with an old friend, Mika after over a decade apart, and as they reconnect they remember the hotel room that they entered as girls, and one may have made a promise to the witch in room 666 that she doesn't intend to keep.

They have dinner in a strange (read: pregnant with impending doom) hotel, and once bodies start plummeting from the roof, the wheels come straight off, and there's no putting them back on.

The ensuing whiplash of horrors has its haunted house appeal, and the ghouls and monsters look stylish and stunning, despite obvious CGI and green screens. Designs are strong enough to keep these creations of floating eyes and severed heads compelling and macabre, and the filming has a surreal 70's quality that sustains shots of characters lying prone and waving their arms in front of a green screen to simulate falling. The film's tone is charming and weird, never too serious for these quirks to interfere with the light scares.

It's a fun creepshow. Playful and kitschy with a strange and imaginative look, it may not offer more than a few shudders and jumps, but moments from it are more than original enough to linger in your head after you go to bed.


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Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch reviewed by Kyle Yadlosky

7

GOOD

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
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Kyle Yadlosky
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