Eko Eko Azarak (Japan 2001)

Rating: **
Review Date: 10/16/01
Director: Kosuke Suzuki
Cast: Natsuki Kato

For whatever inexplicable reasons, the fourth film in the "Eko Eko Azarak" (1995) series is simply called "Eko Eko Azarak." Probably just to confuse people, I'm guessing. It appears to take place after the TV series which starred Hinako Saeki, and this film features pretty Natsuki Kato in the lead role of Kuroi Misa. The film opens as a catatonic Misa and five dead teenagers are found in the woods. When Misa comes to, she's on the verge of hysteria, suffering from hallucinations and flashbacks to the horrible incident in the forest. After (accidentally?) killing a nurse, she escapes the hospital and hides out with her best friend, who is a MAJOR hottie. The film makes less and less sense the further you get into it. Across town, a coroner gets attacked and killed by something that comes out of one of the dead teenager's bodies during an autopsy, but that subplot is never revisited. It's also hinted at that Misa's parents were murdered by some nasty supernatural being who has a score to settle with Misa. Then a psychotic TV reporter hires a Misa look-alike for an exclusive (and fraudulent) television interview, and she ends up killing herself onscreen with a bizarre weapon that was found at the initial crime scene. The real Misa finally shows up at the TV station and goes catatonic again while the TV reporter drenches her in the blood of the dead look-alike and rambles like a madman. Misa's mind finally snaps and she wipes out the entire city with her magic power - or something.

Unfortunately, this entry is even more talky, more abstract, and less visceral than the previous "Eko Eko Azarak III: Misa The Dark Angel" (1997), so without the benefit of subtitles it's impossible to figure out what's going on. Thankfully, the production values are higher than that film and the film looks slick and professional - only there's not much to look at. It looks like the whole production was shot on digital video, and nearly every shot has some sort of color filtering applied to it. The film tends to favor blue and green, but red and yellow coloration is used as well. The coloring is attractive and pleasing to the eye, but a bit unsettling because it looks so unnatural. It's definitely an interesting technique, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more of this in the future. The music is also nice and creepy, and well produced. Just based on this film, Nasuki Kato is the least convincing Kuroi Misa of the bunch, but that's probably because all she does in this movie is stare blankly and scream a lot. Sadly, the strength of her character is never allowed to show in this film, and Misa is treated more like window dressing than a leading character. She literally has nothing to do in the movie, which is unfortunate.