Time to travel back to Japan, and this time the 2010 effort from the man who in some ways helped inspired this blog – the Director of “Ringu”, Hideo Nakata. However, other than “Dark Water”, I have never really been overly impressed by anything else he has delivered to the silver screen – maybe this could be the exception that proves the rule? Maybe not.
In “The Incite Mill” Ten people are invited to a mysterious building in a desolate location, in order to take part in an Experiment. All they know is that the pay is amazing, and they are asked to stay in the compound for Seven days. However, once ensconced in the building they are told the rules of the game – that there will be murders and they have to decide on the Murderer and what the motive was – all for extra financial reward. Oh and there are rewards for the Murderer and the Corpses. They are told to stay in their rooms overnight (where they each find a weapon of varying potential effectiveness), and they are kept in line by a Robot called “Guard”. Will they manage to hold their nerve? Or will it go all “Lord of the Flies”? Somehow, I think we all know the answer.
Let’s be honest with each other, from that synopsis, we all know exactly how this one is going to turn out. We know exactly which 3 characters will be left standing at the final credits. In fact I am being deliberately obtuse when talking about the characters and their traits as to not spoil things even more. Some are gone before we can even get to know them, others are just so annoying you want to jump in and kill them yourself. To be fair the Audience-relatable lead Yuki (Tatsuya Fujiwara) is a decent enough lead (and if you read his IMDB entry you’ll come to realise he is not stranger to these kind of death matches), and ThingsFallApart favourite Haruka Ayase is her usual pretty self (although if you can’t guess her secret after about 15 minutes, you really need to see more films).
The real problem is, the film is just deathly boring. Nakata plays everything pretty straight, obviously hoping that the creepy-murder mystery trappings (such as a non-Politically Correct Ten Little Indians) aligned with the concrete bunker is enough to provide some kind of suspenseful atmosphere. Sadly, Nakata is so obviously working on a budget here, and therefore it is all filmed in just too straightforward a manner to be even visually interesting. The onscreen deaths are not particularly imaginative, and are weakly realised.
“Guard” seems to be a relic from 1970’s Sci-Fi (he is creakier than Huey, Duey and Louie from “Silent Running”) and is quite possibly the least threatening example of Artificial intelligence in cinematic history, as he creaks along the ceilings of the compound at a pace suggesting a good oiling should be in need. Seeing him wobble along is so sad, it isn’t able to raise some kind of B-Movie camp humour. Sure he is armed and dangerous, but he carries about as much threat as a Marshmallow around a campfire.
Now, it won’t come as any surprise to anyone when it is revealed this is all part of some “Big Brother” style reality TV show. Yeah, that old chestnut, which is an idea that is as hackneyed as the TV Trope it is lampooning. But again, the film even fails to do anything with the idea, other than a 1 second glimpse of two girls watching the show on their phones. More worryingly, it is suggesting that millions of people around the Globe are tuning in, and this is not the first episode of the show – yet all bar one Character (maybe two, but spoilers) seem blissfully unaware of the existence of it. It just seems unlikely. And this is the whole problem of the film in a nutshell – it is unable to realise the environment and world it is attempting to portray.
Again, Nakata is adapting a popular novel – and I have to believe that the literary version is somewhat more fleshed out than the film version. Because this film is unable to maintain any suspense, really explore any ideas, set up the concept in any sort of creditable manner, and is as dull as dishwater. Avoid.