The Okinawa International Film Festival kicked off in earnest with the Asian premiere of Nakata Hideo’s latest dose of J-Horror, The Complex. The film stars former AKB48 member Maeda Atsuko as Asuka, a young trainee nurse who moves into a new apartment complex with her family. On hearing strange noises from next door she investigates, only to discover the corpse of an elderly man trying to claw its way through the wall. Even after the body is taken away the disturbances continue, and at that moment the rest of her family mysteriously disappears.
Nakata is revered as one of the pillars of the J-horror movement, thanks to seminal entries like Ring (1998) and Dark Water (2002). However, in recent years he has struggled to recapture that same eerie atmosphere of those earlier efforts, and unfortunately The Complex continues this trend. The film shows some early promise, undermining Asuka as an innocent heroine with a promising revelation, introducing spooky ghost-like characters inhabiting the complex itself, while adding new characters like Narimiya Hiroki’s love interest and even a female exorcist. Sadly, Nakata struggles to create much of an atmosphere or generate any genuine scares. The narrative quickly unravels, leading to a messy, incoherent conclusion, while Maeda proves herself incapable of carrying the film with a flat performance lacking in nuance or charisma.