Haunted Lantern (Japan 1997)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 12/10/00
Cast: Yuuna Natsuo, Junna Suzuki, Gitan Otsura

A classic tragic love/horror story. A forbidden love triangle develops between a ronin named Shinzaburo (Gitan Otsura) and two daughters of a high ranking family, Tsuyu and Suzu (Yuuna Natsuo and Junna Suzuki). Seeing no way out of their miserable predicament, the two girls commit suicide and then their spirits return to claim Shinzaburo's soul as well. He pledges his life to the beautiful Tsuyu, but when he discovers her true form he naturally freaks out and wants nothing to do with her. This makes the ghosts VERY angry...

A very sad and pretty film to watch, spruced up with some fairly decent horror elements and some tacky digital effects. Typical of Japanese fare, the pacing is slow and methodical, but it seems to complement the dreamy and thoughtful cinematography. The acting is good, but I never got a sense of chemistry between the doomed lovers. Yuuna Natsuo is very pretty and has got the whole tragic and melancholy act down quite well, but she definitely misses the romantic spark. Unfortunately, the film ends on a sour note with a bizarre ending that makes no sense - I'm guessing this is a cultural or religious thing that I just didn't understand.