Yoshihiro Nakamura’s “The Inerasable” – 2016 Fantasia Film Review

Employing a storytelling method similar to his 2014 film “The Snow White Murder Case,” Yoshihiro Nakamura packs in murder, narrations, interview-style scenes, and a search for the cause of the horror in his latest, “The Inerasable” (残穢-住んではいけない部屋-).  However, while “The Snow White Murder Case” was uneven in its execution, it at least drove forward character development and a genuine urgency in determining the perpetrator.  In “The Inerasable,” two-dimensional characters are simply used to unpack a history of cursed real estate that does too little, too late to make the plot interesting.

A mystery writer named I (Yuko Takeuchi, who sleepwalks through this role) pens stories hand-picked from fan letters.  One of these opens the film as a flashback to an old house, relying on translucent white noise, distorted howls and the sound of wind to propel I’s speculative tale.  These gimmicks are repeated throughout as the stories of previous occupants unveil on the site of a Tokyo apartment complex, where an aspiring architect and president of a university mystery club, Ms. Kubo (an equally blank Ai Hashimoto) resides.  Kubo sends a letter to I about some strange sweeping noises in her apartment, and eventually the two meet in person to track down what happened to the building’s previous occupants.  As they go further back in time with their research, new characters conveniently arrive with information that happens to connect their previous findings.

But as each link is made, the viewer becomes increasingly disconnected as fictional facts overload the story, sweeping any shred of suspense aside.  The deliberately paced third-person point of view distances one’s involvement even more. Perhaps with diligent attention paid to the suspenseful search for the truth, “The Inerasable” actually would cause one to jump at every odd noise at home after the sun sets and the credits roll.

“The Inerasable” screens at the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival on Fri., July 22, at 5 p.m.