Zoo (various directors, 2005)
If you're going into Zoo looking for an Asian horror film, or something like the wonderful miniseries Mr. Stain on Junk Alley (as I did, thanks to the guy on the cover--and I will add my voice to those who were very disappointed he never actually shows up in the movie), you're most likely going to be disappointed by this flick. It reminded me more of the work of Pan-ek Ratanaruang; it's all very sedate, very slow-moving, with the odd flash of almost inexplicable violence now and then. No, Rampo Noir this is not. But for what it is, it's not bad at all.
The movie consists of five entirely unrelated stories, each directed by an up-and-coming Japanese director. The central story of the lot, "SO-far", by first-timer Komiya Masatetsu, is probably the best of the lot, though the ending does chicken out a bit. In it, a child (first-time actor Kenta Sugasagi with the kind of performance that can make a career) and his mother (Kyoka Suzuki, soon to be in the much-talked-about Japanese remake of Sideways) lose the family's father (Reincarnation's Tetta Sugimoto) in a horrible car accident. At the exact time of the accident, the child sees his father in the living room. That's nothing unusual, but the apparition doesn't actually go away. Once the mother comes to believe, the child begins to act as a bridge between the world of the living and the world of the dead. This has some unexpected consequences, and soon the child stops being able to see both parents at once.
The above synopsis doesn't sound much like a horror film, does it? I reiterate: this is no horror film. Even the movie's most explicitly horrific piece ("Zoo") is a slow-paced and intellectual piece of filmmaking rather than an actual horror movie. You will not find resolution in these mini-films, all of which trade extensively on ambiguity. There are those of us who like that sort of thing a great deal, and for us, I strongly recommend seeing this. However, it's certainly not a film for everyone. ***