I’m ambivalent on this one. On the one hand, Hitori Kakurenbo (aka Creepy Hide and Seek, aka–ludicrously–Hide and Go Kill) is a relatively well-orchestrated, fairly well-written slice of familiar J-Horror (in a good way): there’s the normal female ghost, sure, but some interesting folkloric elements, including the now-obligatory folklorist character who holds all (or at least some) of the answers to the supernatural predicament. On the other hand, it’s so very, very slow, and so very, very B-movie-ish. Also, this:
I mentioned in another post that I love Ringu, and that remains true. But come on already. Even I have to draw the line somewhere.
The premise is as formulaic as they come: a bunch of high school kids discover a ritual called hitori kakurenbo which involves stuffing a doll with rice and binding it with red string and stabbing it and other creepy stuff, all in the service of summoning a yūrei. The ritual also involves the use of salt water as an apotropaic, but the silly kids all manage to mess that part up (of course, or there wouldn’t be a horror movie).
So people start summoning ghosts, and one kid tries to use the ritual as a way to kill his dad (for reasons which are never really explained), and stuff goes south pretty fast. By the end I was thoroughly confused as to what exactly was going on, but it seemed as though the protagonist, a teacher at the school where the stupid kids have been playing with ghosts, has the requisite dark secret in her past that implicates her in the ghostly murder spree.
Despite the overwhelming triteness of this film, and despite the gruelingly slow pace, I somehow managed to enjoy some aspects of it. It creates a familiarly creepy atmosphere (and here I mean that in a good way), and while there’s nothing particularly deep going on, it’s a mildly gratifying return to the late-90s/early-2000s era of J-horror.
I don’t know if I can really recommend it unless you’re very bored. But there are two sequels, and I have a feeling I’ll be watching them pretty soon. Make of that what you will.