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Film / Noroi: The Curse

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Masafumi Kobayashi is an investigative journalist who specializes in researching supernatural occurrences. In 2004, after finishing his latest video documentary, a fire broke out in his home. His wife's body was found inside, but Kobayashi himself was declared missing. His video, formerly considered too disturbing to show to the public, is the main segment of the movie. Shown through the video recordings of his personal investigation and clips of television shows, the documentary ties together the threads of a collection of strange events known as The Curse (Noroi, in Japanese).


This film provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: The abandoned shrine to Kagutaba.
  • Always Save the Girl: The last third of the movie is spurned on by the disappearance of Kana and an attempt to find her, as well as the need to stop Marika's curse by performing a ritual.
  • Animal Motifs: Pigeons.
  • Arc Words: Two. Kagutaba and ectoplasmic worms
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Kagutaba is one of the few characters to survive the film. Though 'winning' is an odd word, as we're not entirely sure what he was hoping to accomplish aside from ensuring he had a physical body.
  • Big Word Shout: "KANAAAAAAAAA!"
  • Body and Host: Both Junko Ishii and the boy.
  • Character Tics: Hori is always making odd motions with his hands, adjusting his hat, scratching his neck, and just generally fidgeting.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Big time.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: In the finale, Hori rants that Kagutaba survived, and it's within the boy. He's absolutely right.
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  • Creepy Child: The unnamed boy living with Junko Ishii.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Kobayashi's wife sets herself on fire while under Kagutaba's influence, and Hori the psychic is found dead and crammed into a vent.
  • Cult Colony: Shimokage Village, before it was flooded by the creation of a dam.
  • Curse: People who have an inkling of, or have pissed off, the malevolent entity Kagutaba die. Hell, the mother and child that tipped off Kobayashi to the events of the film die under very suspicious circumstances.
  • Daylight Horror: While the climax does happen at night, a lot of the phenomenon occurs in the daytime. Take the footage of the Kagutaba ritual, for example.
  • Death of a Child: Kana.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The climax.
  • Downer Ending: A foregone conclusion. It's outright stated in the beginning that Kobayashi's wife is dead and that his own body has never been found.
  • Driven to Suicide: Midori, a girl who worked with Marika, kills herself alongside six other people, including a young man Kobayashi was investigating. Also, Junko Ishii.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Kagutaba. It's never sufficiently explained what the Kagutaba actually is or where it came from, its mere presence (which is felt everywhere) drives people to do bizarre things and it has a habit of mind-controlling people to commit suicide. Kagutaba spends the film controlling people to summon itself into our world, but if there is any purpose behind its actions beyond that, it's utterly incomprehensible - it never seems to be an actively malicious character but more a generally harmful force that cares little to not at all about the people it destroys, and doesn't seem to pursue anything more. The first thing established about Kagutaba is that no one in the modern world knows what it is, and that those who knew about it in older times summoned it to kill people - though it's completely ambiguous as to whether or not they forced it to do so, or if it would have done these things anyway. While the villagers of Shimokage called it a demon, the professor Kobayashi visits speculates that it was simply convenient for them to call it that because they had no idea what it was. There is a subtle implication it's not so much a demon as it is a malevolent deity.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: It's explained that Kagutaba was conjured to torment or attack specific targets of the sorcerors who originally summoned it, but it had a will of its own and began to operate independently of the spell.
  • Framing Device: The film is presented as a documentary on the disappearance of Kobayashi. That's why the film is interspersed with found footage, variety show segments, and still frames/images as necessary.
  • Forced to Watch: At the end of the film, Kobayashi displays uncommon kindness by taking a mentally disturbed person into his home - heartwarming, yeah? It ends with this person having a (justified) episode that they're also sheltering the entity that the film centers around (and he's correct), attempting to beat the child hosting it to death with a stone, braining Kobayashi with it to keep him from interfering, and eventually Kobayashi is forced to watch his wife burn to death while utterly helpless.
  • Force Feeding: while we never see it, Kana is forced to eat the aborted fetuses.
  • Four Is Death: During the ritual to pacify Kagutaba, four claps are required between bows, and the ritual in this exact village is the only time and place where this bow is performed.
    • Kana answers four questions correctly on the variety show segment. For the next question, she draws the Kagutaba mask, when the actual card shows "звезда," the Russian word for "star."
  • Gasp!: Marika and Kobayashi's wife reacting to finding two dead pigeons that seem to have thrown themselves suicidally against the Kobayashis' house.
  • Harmful to Minors: Oh boy. Kana was force-fed aborted fetuses off-camera while a little boy was there, seeing everything happen - though it's entirely possible that this was done to summon the boy in the first place. His origins are ambiguous.
  • Haunted Heroine: The events surrounding Marika throughout the film.
  • History Repeats: Mariko's Freak Out in the graveyard is remarkably similar to Junko's Freak Out in the tape showing how she became possessed. The implication is of course that Kagutaba was trying to turn Mariko into another Junko.
  • Hollywood Exorcism: Averted. The ritual to bind Kagutaba is dignified and not very dramatic.
  • Hope Spot: Kobayashi did save a child from Junko and manage to adopt him and take him to their home, leading to a possible Bittersweet Ending. Only for Kagutaba to come back.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The glimpse of Kagutaba seen on the unedited variety show tape.
    • As well as Junko Ishii's "son" - he IS Kagutaba, and it's not clear if he was a normal boy whom Junko kidnapped to give Kagutaba a physical body, or the entity itself.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: A truly horrifying example: Junko Ishii forces the psychic girl Kana to eat aborted fetuses as part of the ritual to summon Kagutaba.
  • Mad Oracle: Hori, the "Super Psychic".
  • Man on Fire: The fate of Kobayashi's wife.
  • Meaningful Name: The kanji for Kagutaba is composed of characters which mean "disaster," "tool" and "spirit."
  • The Mentally Disturbed: Junko Ishii, BIG time.
  • Miko: Junko Ishii. She also forces Kana into this role.
  • Never Found the Body: Kobayashi's fate is stated outright by the movie's premise. Now, think about the implications after watching the movie, and seeing what happens to those whom Kagutaba gets close to.
  • Nightmare Face: Kagutaba. Everthing about it is so primal and WRONG.
    • Also, what happens to Junko Ishii's "son" at the end. And you thought the face in Inland Empire was fucking scary.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: The strange patterns drawn by Kana and Marika while under Kagutaba's influence.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: This film is built on this trope. It serves up long scenes with eeriness and tension. It make the payoff all the more terrifying when creepy things are actually shown.
  • Occult Detective: Kobayashi and his cameraman.
  • Present Absence: Kana.
  • Religious Horror: Type 2. It focuses on a cult that, every so often, performs a ritual to try and contain the spirit of disaster, Kagutaba, who either possessed a woman or held her in captivity, forcing her to feed aborted fetuses to a young girl in an effort to summon him and give him a physical form.
  • Religion of Evil: The villagers, at first. The village started as a community of sorcerers who used Kagutaba for their own means. Then, when Kagutaba stopped listening to them, they became devoted to keeping him bound underground.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Hori the "Super Psychic" has a whole HOUSE full of crazy. Everything is covered in tin foil and fliers warning the reader about "ectoplasmic worms".
    • Junko's house too (loops, debris, and dead pigeons aplenty).
  • Screaming Woman: Junko Ishii in the video tape showing the last Kagutaba binding ritual at the village.
    • Also Mariko, frequently, though she also combines it with possessed groans.
    • Kobayashi's wife Keiko as she burns to death.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Mariko and Miyajima manage to escape the mountain before the confrontation between Hori, Kobayashi and Kagutaba.
  • Shrines and Temples: The shrine to Kagutaba.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: What Kagutaba was prior to the erection of the dam.
  • Spooky Painting: The scroll depicting how to summon Kagutaba.
  • Suicide Pact: Midori and six other people hang themselves from a park swingset, though it's unclear if 'pact' was the right word, as they seem to have done this while possessed.
  • The Summation: Kobayashi surmised the plot near the end of the film. While he hits the nail on the head that the whole ploy was a summoning ritual for Kagutaba, he missed the fact that the vessel which Kagutaba now inhabits is that of the unnamed boy he took home with him.
  • Tinfoil Hat: Hori wears a hat and a coat of tinfoil, as well as covering his house in tinfoil - to protect him from ectoplasmic worms. When he confronts Kagutaba during the epilogue, his lack of this defense allows Kagutaba to take control.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The village where the binding ritual took place.
  • Uncanny Valley: Kagutaba's face, along with the way he just stands there after Hori brains him with the rock.
    • Junko Ishii's behavior is also something of a verbal/emotional variant; it's as if she understands anger, but not human interaction.
  • Wave of Babies: Much, MUCH more terrifying than it sounds.
  • Waif Prophet: Kana, poor baby.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The final fate of Miyajima, Kobayashi's videographer, is never shown in the film.
  • Whispering Ghosts: Heard through EVP (electronic voice phenomena). This is how Kobayashi learns Kagutaba's name.
  • You Are Too Late: Hori senses Kana in the mountains, and he and Kobayashi go there...turns out its just her spirit that's dwelling there, being devoured by what are, presumably, the spirits of the fetuses she was fed. They could be the 'ectoplasmic worms' Hori keeps seeing.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Averted. For a few short seconds you can see Kagutaba in its horrific glory.
  • Zigzag Paper Tassel: With one, erm, odd addition.

"I guess it's too late for all of us."