Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Shoulda Been a Movie: The Graveyard Apartment

The Graveyard Apartment had all the earmarks of the Japanese horror cinema that I love so much. There's a strong sense of isolation as the Kano family moves into a new apartment complex across from a graveyard, and quickly become its only occupants as strange, dangerously violent things occur with increased frequency. There's the haunting aspect of the past as Teppei Kano's first wife killed herself upon learning of his affair with Misao, his current wife and mother of his child, AND an abandoned underground road that runs under the cemetery connected to a Buddhist temple but leads to nowhere, ending at the steel frame of the apartment building. What's not to love?

The circumstances of the Kanos are unique despite the story being placed in a very solidly established genre of Japanese horror. I really enjoyed that aspect of the story- that I knew something was going to happen, but I didn't know what. I also appreciated the insight into both Misao and Teppei, both together and apart from each other. It amplified the feelings of stress, loneliness, and ostracization they have felt as a result of their relationship's origins, and added a compelling human element of despair and loneliness ontop of the supernatural forces at work here.

Little Tamao, their daughter, was perhaps the best character of the lot - she experiences the worst of the horrors the complex has to offer, and her fear and unease throughout the story was told in a genuine and compelling fashion.

If it were to be adapted into a video game a la the Fatal Frame franchise, I'd be pissing my pants right now. The Graveyard Apartment could very easily be among my top favorites in Japanese horror films. Except for one glaring thing.....

It's not a film. It's a book. And while I could easily see how all the terrors written on its pages would electrify the silver screen, the writing itself does not have the heft to carry that emotional weight. In so many ways, there is a distance in the story that keeps me from feeling the Kanos' fear. The events are related in a matter-of-fact style that robs so many of these scenes of their power, and stops me from experiencing these scenes with their full force. There is just no sense of mood in the writing whatsoever and it is a terrible, crying shame, for so much else about this story had the potential to be outstanding, if only conveyed with more passionate, more compelling words. If this thing gets adapted, I'm gonna be the first in line to see it.

K Rating: 3/5

Image result for fatal frame 2
This is what this book needed more of - visual OOMPH

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