Fans of East Asian horror will be familiar with Ju-On, the franchise that many overseas would come to know as The Grudge. Created by Takashi Shimizu, his stamp on horror has been solidified through the longevity of this franchise, and the powerful grip Kayako Saeki has on horror fans everywhere. Now, the iconic horror filmmaker is back with a brand new release titled HOWLING VILLAGE, and it is not something to miss out on!
I recently screened and reviewed the latest film to come from iconic filmmaker Takashi Shimizu, HOWLING VILLAGE. If you read my review, you already know that I absolutely loved it. So, when there was an opportunity to interview Shimizu during his press junket, it should come as no surprise that I snatched it up. Our 10-minute chat was held over Zoom and was facilitated by an interpreter (unfortunately, my Japanese is limited to “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you,” and—bizarrely enough—the “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” song). Here’s what we were able to talk about in our window!
My first question is about cinematography: I noticed that the shots themselves are a lot softer in color and overall tone than many other modern horror films. Was this a conscious artistic choice?
Takashi Shimizu: The director of photography [Jun Fukumoto] is an expert. He’s a fantastic DP and [we] talk before every scene about how [we’re] going to shoot the film. This is the way that [we came to] this series of decisions over the shooting of the film. [I left] a lot of this to the director of photography.
How did you go about choosing a physical location to film? It looks so natural and it looks like a found area. Were you working with natural elements, or was everything completely man-made?
Takashi Shimizu: The HOWLING VILLAGE was totally a found location. When [we] were shooting, [we] had to adjust things a little to fit the shooting, but everything was done on location.
There are a lot of folkloric elements to HOWLING VILLAGE and a lot of mythology. Was this all original or did you derive and adapt some of it from traditional Japanese folklore and mythology?
Takashi Shimizu: Folklore and mythology are basically a mixture of things that really happened and things that are made up. In creating this story, [I did] something [that was] pretty much the same: taking things that have actually happened a long time ago, or stories about things that maybe didn’t happen a long time ago, and jumbling these things all together to try to create something that looks like it may have happened.
Did anything spooky or supernatural happen on set when you were filming?
Takashi Shimizu: (laughs) Among the cast and the crew were people who are psychic, or who believed that they were psychic, and they would occasionally say “oh this site…I have a bad feeling here” or something like that. But [I am] completely inert to that kind of thing so it didn’t affect [me] at all.
HOWLING VILLAGE is now available in select theaters and On Demand in the United State.s It will arrive on Blu-ray on September 14, 2021.
Interview has been edited for clarity.