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Grudge director Takashi Shimizu is back to his old tricks with The Shock Labyrinth 3D. Telling the tale of a group of kids as they venture into an abandoned ghost house at an amusement park, we discover that one of them got lost. Ten years later she’s back and when the teens take their friend to the hospital the scares kick off.

After watching this half assed attempt at suspense J-horror it’s near impossible to believe that this is the same director that rocked out the pale faced scary kids in The Grudge nearly ten years ago. Now I’m not saying any of The Grudge movies were all that effective for me (well besides some of the visuals), but when compared to Shock Labyrinth the  Grudge movies, whether original or remakes, look like masterpieces. Nothing here is convincing. The plot is tired from the get go, the characters are thin, the visuals are less than realistic, and other than a few nightmarish elements where we see the kids lose their friend, everything is just drab. Even the spooky image of staring long black haired Japanese children barely raised a chill.

As for the 3Dness, it’s about as subtle as a brick. It would work if it wasn’t for the fact at all the 3D show off elements feel out of place. Feathers, floating toy rabbits, frozen droplets of water all feel forced, and I’m not sure if the 3D is the reason the movie looks so cheaply made, but most kids' shows have production values that are on par with this in places. Honestly the outside of the ghost house looks about as convincing as the sets in the second live action Scooby Doo movie.

It could be that I’ve grown bored of J-Horror and this movie is five years too late or something, but The Shock Labyrinth made me question how well a re-watch of the original The Grudge, The Ring or Dark Water would be nowadays, but then I realised they were actually good and this is just a half-hearted attempt to resurrect a genre that’s coasting... in 3D.

Shock Labyrinth 3D, The


Well the video quality sits somewhere between the look of a children's TV drama or a low budget TV comedy. The image is dull with more grey than black in the darker scenes and there’s a softness that destroys any real detail. To make matters worse the 2D version looks like a backward converted 3D image and the obvious 3D shots still have a whiff of 3D in their presentation (i.e. blurry).

Colours hold up pretty well, especially in clothing and set dressing, but in a movie that’s trying to create a mood of fear and mystery, the bright pink of a sweatshirt or the summer yellow of a t-shirt is probably a little too striking to be effective. Also, these elements fighting against the murky transfer in the darker scenes show off the transfer's failings rather than remaining its strengths.

Moving on to the 3D disc, it's simply old school red and blue glasses and is still as guff as ever. Yes, the elements have multiple layers and there is a depth to the screen, but that doesn’t stop the fact everything is red, blue and blurry. All of this is great, if you love migraines.

Shock Labyrinth 3D, The


Besides the fact the eerie score is about as clichéd as they come for this sort of affair, it actually hovers nicely just above the dialogue and sound effects, which are strong and clear. There’s a nice bit of bass in the creepier moment and an ear piercing bit of feedback to make you feel more uncomfortable from time to time too.

The echoes in the dark corridors are also pretty effective and add a nice sense of disconnection from the outside world, as are some of the atmospherics, which mostly show off in the flashbacks showing the characters as children. Generally speaking, it’s a solid track and is probably a stronger element for the scares than the visuals were.

Shock Labyrinth 3D, The


There’re a whole host of interviews from Takashi Shimizu, Yuya Yagiri, Ryo Katsuji, Ai Maeda, Erina Mizuno and Misako Renbutsu, all ranging between three and nine minutes each.

The behind the scenes segments, ‘The Haunted House and Scary Dummies (02:36), ‘The Secrets of the Stereoscopic Camera’ (03:23), 'Cast and Crew Fooling around and Shooting Last Scenes' (03:33) are all on set hand held clips with interviews and what not.

‘Venice Film Festival with Takashi Shimizu’ (04:16) is a good overview of the event intercut with interviews and ‘The Press Conference and Opening Day’ (02:42) is a bizarre piece of compiled footage showing off the movie release.

Lastly there’s the trailer (02:01) which is so typical it feels like a spoof. The second 3D disc has the trailer (02:01) again, but weirdly not in 3D.

Shock Labyrinth 3D, The


The Shock Labyrinth isn’t shocking, unless you mean it in the derogative way. The once highly regarded Grudge director has thrown us all a real turkey that neither scares, freaks out or has any sort of deeper meaning. Fluffy rabbit backpacks simply ain’t scary, even if a 3D head is ripping out of it.

The video quality here has its moments, but is generally questionable (and the effects look horrid). The audio is much better with some real show off moments, but with the low-fi extras, red and blue 3D and the movie itself being a bit of a stinker, the disc doesn’t really amount to much.