From the mind behind the widely acclaimed horror franchise Ju-on comes a new film to send chills down your spine just in time for the end of summer. Directed and written by Takashi Shimizu (with Daisuke Hosaka as co-writer), HOWLING VILLAGE is a haunting tale of betrayal, blood curses…and the cutthroat, greedy nature of capitalism.
“After her brother goes missing, Kanade, a young psychologist visits his last known location, an infamous haunted and cursed site known as ‘Howling Village’ to investigate his disappearance. Her investigation reveals that the village’s mysteries are connected to her family and she works to uncover her family’s dark history.”
There are so many great things to discuss from this film. Let’s start with the opening scene. HOWLING VILLAGE opens with two young people, Akina and Yuma, filming themselves investigating the validity behind the local legend of the haunted “Howling Village.” Through the lens of a handheld camera, we learn that a place called Howling Village really did exist…and that the more sinister parts of the tale may also be true. The first eight minutes of the film are captivating, steadily ramping up from eerie to outright horrifying.
The remainder of the film follows Yuma’s sister Kanade—a psychologist who can see spirits—as she learns the truth about Howling Village and how her family is connected to it. Kanade is brilliantly played by Ayaka Miyoshi, who delivers a performance stacked with vulnerability, determination, and grit. Miyoshi is supported by Reiko Takashima, Masanobu Takashima, Ryôta Bandô, Rinka Ôtani, and Tsuyoshi Furukawa among others.
The cast’s collective acting prowess works in tandem with Shimizu and Hosaka’s expertly crafted script. The plot of HOWLING VILLAGE moves quickly, but also with careful deliberation. Every line is important; every scene has a purpose and is layered with nuance. There’s no filler and no superfluous romantic side-plots haphazardly thrown in. There are also very few jumpscares. Instead, Shimizu creates an atmosphere of dread that simmers throughout the entire film.
Of course, there are also some classic ghosts with jerky, disjointed movements making guttural noises with their throats. But then, this is the director responsible for Ju-on—upsetting sounds are his trademark.
Finally, we can’t not talk about the cinematography of HOWLING VILLAGE; it’s beautiful. The tones and shades are soft and gentle, standing in sharp contrast with the horror that unfolds. In a brief chat with Nightmarish Conjurings, Shimizu credited the filming style to Cinematographer Jun Fukumoto.
All in all, HOWLING VILLAGE is the perfect film for those with a fondness for ghosts, haunted grounds, and the theme of familial trauma.
HOWLING VILLAGE creeps its way into select theaters in the United States on August 13, 2021. The film will then be made available On Demand on August 17, 2021. It will arrive on Blu-ray on September 14, 2021.