You know that thing that Japan generally thinks of LGBT? You know, where being gay is a phase that teens go through and that once they are adults they outgrow? Where it’s okay to be gay, as long as you are still young? Well, this is what this movie is about, that is, the main message it seems to send! That is one of the only two things that I don’t like about this movie! This ‘gay is only a phase’ thing really rubbed me the wrong way! Worse still they even turned it into a curse. A curse that affects only girls because there are no gay men in Japan apparently, oops, I meant gay boys since grown-ups can’t be gay having outgrown such nonsense. I am totally tasting metal in my mouth right now!
The other is that they tried so hard to be intelligent by mixing in human elements into what is supposed to be a supernatural/horror movie! If any one of you watched those promotional videos I posted a while back while this movie was in cinemas, Ayami was saying something about her character Aya being the next Sadako which really brought my hopes up even higher about this movie seeing as I am a great horror fan. So you can imagine my disappointment when in the movie, apparently the Aya ghost was not the one causing all the deaths but rather humans! Okay, that really pissed me off! You can’t compete with Sadako, Kuchisake Onna or any other legendary villains like that, nope! If they had made Ghost Aya the villain that she was supposed to be instead of trying to be wise bums, this would have been a 5 star horror and the birth of the next Gen villain but alas. Seriously, Michi did not even get to take a photo, not a single photo, with that famous camera of the Fatal Frame series we know and love! Not one!!! All the rage!
Other than those two facts, this movie was really great. Which isn’t saying much seeing as those two points I just touched upon are what make this movie’s gears move! You see, the main thread in this movie is that there is a curse that breaks lose when a girl kisses the photo of the girl she likes. Apparently this has been going on for generations in this school (There is a whole gallery of lovers from years past) and up until the current head sister’s school days, the curse was un-stoppable as in every graduating class there was always a couple the loved each other so much that instead of growing up and having to be separated, they would commit suicide in order to freeze their time together forever. The head sister was one of these girls and was in love too once. But when they went to commit suicide together with the girl she loved, the head nun cheated and did not fall with her lover. That apparently broke the curse!
But with Aya’s arrival, the curse began anew. Girls would fall for her to the point of them breaking out the curse all over again by kissing her photo, which we actually find out wasn’t her photo but more on that later. Aya who is also being affected by the curse by being bombarded with weird visions, decides to lock herself in her room for the whole last term. Also because she couldn’t handle the way her fellow students looked at her wherever she would go and as she said, did not understand the feeling of a girl loving another girl (to which Michi replies that she doesn’t even understand the feeling of loving a boy. I gave her 10 points for that BTW!).
And so the movie opens around this time, only a few days left to go before graduation, Aya is still locked up in her room, the girls are going crazy without their Aya, the curse is spreading and getting stronger. And in the process bodies begin to fall like sheep.
Nakajo Ayami as Aya
Morikawa Aoi as Mitchi
What funny is that Michi was so scarce in the early parts of the movie that I thought I was watching the wrong movie! In fact she and Aya (the real Aya) were not that close and only met at around the half-way mark when shit was hitting the fan. The early times were mostly taken up by the victims and so enter Kasumi. Not sure if it was just weak character development or what but it was hard to tell how close these characters were to each other except in the case of Risa (Kojima Fujiko) and Itsuki. Actually those two lost two Aya/Michi only because they weren’t the main characters and also that one of them had to kick it!
Kasumi was just one of the many girls totally in love with Aya. She missed Aya so much that she began to get sick but there was something else darker going on behind the scenes. One night we see Kasumi staring longingly at Aya’s photo. She takes it in her hands and kissed the photo (right on the lips).
During one of their plantation lessons, Michi gets a sickly Kasumi to ditch the class so she can cheer her up and there, right in front of Michi’s presence Kasumi disappears. No one knew what happened to her. They got the town people to go man hunting for her but they never found her. Michi then snuck into her room one night, probably trying to figure out anything about her disappearance. While there she finds something interesting – Aya’s photo. Michi is surprised because Kasumi had asked her to take a picture of Aya for her before they graduated so she thought Kasumi did not have any pictures of Aya.
That photo of Aya’s was so beautiful and so sad Michi placed it right beside her bed so that she could stare it as she lay in bed. What she did not know was that she was digging her own grave. For she too begins to get sick and starts having delusions of Ghost Aya. It seemed like the ghost was seeking out those who had seen her photo. It doesn’t matter how long you spent, as long as you see her, that’s that! It’s over for you!
Said Ghost pays Michi a visit one day in class. She does this to every other girl that sees her photo but she gets close to Michi and just when you think that she is about her kiss her, she instead whispers into Michi’s ear. She always says the same thing like a broken record. What she says is, if I understood this correctly, it for that person to lift her curse. The first time I heard this I was really confused. I was like, what kind of evil ghost asks for help? And this went on until the reveal at the end of the movie and then I was like, okay…
After Michi’s acquaintance with Ghost Aya, her condition gets even worse. She collapses in the corridor after she had passed Risa and Itsuki. These two carry her back to her room and it is when the three start to interact. Yeah, I did mention the weird relationships in this movie didn’t I? It’s like everyone and everyone know each other in this school! I went to boarding school once, it had about 300 students and I think I knew someone from P5-P7 (my seniors) despite being in P3 (third year) so I guess that with a school as small as Aya and Michi’s that is possible but still…Show us something else to show their connection instead of just dumping us these relationships.
While in Michi’s room, the girls stumble upon said Ghost Aya’s, photo and did I mention almost everyone in this school is gay for Aya? Well Risa was super-hot for her. Her saviour who prevented her from descending into madness so far was of course Itsuki. And here is the thing, Itsuki was like the only girl (or one of the less than 10 if we count that chapel scene remnants) that wasn’t in lust with Aya. But for her the reason being that she was so in love with Risa! And so she saw Aya as her enemy somewhat because Risa was in love with her and couldn’t shut up about it when given the chance.
Seriously these two were really cute! If not for their fate, and if they had gotten a kiss or maybe even get the curse of gens gone by, then they would have totally smashed Aya and Michi as the top ship in this movie. Actually even with the way things turned out, I am sure they will have a certain fandom of their own. They were just so lovely together, and what Itsuki did for Risa in this movie totally gives her rank as one of the best girls in the whole yuri fandom! She was what a true girl in love would be. She did what anyone would do for the one they love. She would get cutely jealous whenever Risa mentioned Aya or like the mentioned time when Risa found Aya’s photo in Michi’s room and was all ready to take it for herself but Risa snatched it away from her giving an excuse of not taking Kasumi’s things and to keep it for her until she returns. Too bad what they decided to do with the photo, which was to build a shrine for it in the attic where every girl in the school can go (which they did) spelt their doom!
But another great scene of theirs actually happened before this, where Itsuki snuck Risa out of the school and into town (totally reminding me of that same scene in Whispering Corridors 3 – Wishing Stairs, in which So-hee sneaks Jin-sung out of the school to go to a concert!). Then while in town, Itsuki did some cute things like feeding Risa and doing her nails then drying them by blowing on them then the hair thingy then promising to do Risa’s nails for her when she opens a hair salon.
That wasn’t the best part though. What truly stole this ship for me was the sacrifice! You see as I said just a glance at that photo of Ghost Aya (who again isn’t actually Aya) is enough to get the curse going. I say curse but I think most of you are confused about what this curse actually is. Let me try to explain it. All everyone knows is that the curse kills people because the lovers that started it would always die but the truth was that they committed suicide. Then again maybe they thought it was the curse’s doing. That it was because of the curse that they committed suicide. The curse is weaved when someone kisses the photo of the one they love. So when I say curse here, think someone is about to die, but this time it is no suicide since they all love Aya and Aya is locked up in her room and is not about to go dying with someone she doesn’t know. Not to mention she doesn’t understand love, or how a girl can love another girl so…
Anyway since they all saw the photo, Michi, Risa and Itsuki are now cursed. Michi as I mentioned already met Ghost-chan. Next Risa meets Ghost-chan and we go through the same thing we did with Michi, except this time I really thought that they would kiss. Then again, how does one go about kissing a ghost? But this time we do find out about something new. Whenever the girls have this vision of Ghost Aya about to kiss them, only to whisper into their ears, it turns out that they are actually sleep-walking. Once the illusion is over they find themselves in front of Ghost-chan’s altar they built for her and about to kiss the picture.
Risa finds herself in this predicament, which she shares with Itsuki and we find out that Itsuki has been having the exact same experience. The three then get together to try and figure out what is going on and what to do about it. Not being a fan of Aya already, Itsuki being at the end of her rope (They look like zombies. They don’t eat, rarely sleep) so it was understandable when Itsuki started to fire torpedoes at Aya. She says that Aya weaved the curse. That she started all of this because why the hell else was she locked up all this time in her room! Yes, Aya is still in her room! No one has seen her for two months! And of course as if paying homage to the ‘Heard you were talking shit’ meme, Ghost-chan shows up right at that moment and makes Itsuki wish she was anyone else but herself right about then!
It was pure gold I tell ya all! Too bad Ghost-chan wasn’t a bad guy or this would have made the books! Also in the scenes that followed with Itsuki, Ghost-chan began to do the scenes that will place her in the minds of many for years to come. In this particular instance, she did the Walking on Water thingy! Once again, because I never learn, there was no kissing Ghost-chan as what we got was just another ‘lift my curse’ whisper! Once again Itsuki opens her eyes to find herself in front of the photo about to kiss it. So I guess she was dreaming all that time? Since when though, was their conversation all a dream? Reminds me of Freddy’s way of doing things where his victims can’t tell if they are awake or dreaming.
Anyway the sacrifice I was talking about happens in this same scene after Itsuki returns to her senses. It seems she wasn’t the only one because as she tries to calm herself, someone else is there with her and they are leaning in to kiss Ghost-chan’s photo. Realising that it was Risa, Itsuki pulls Risa away before she could do it, snatches the photo then kisses it without a second thought. Risa comes back to the world of the loving to find a very still Itsuki right there next to her, frozen in motion with the photo in her hands and her lips on it. She lost consciousness just like that!
Itsuki sacrificed herself to save Risa! Seriously how many people do that, especially in horror movies?! I don’t remember anyone throwing themselves at ghosts just so they can save their love ones. Seriously, how can I not love the girl after doing this!! She died so she could save her love Risa! My eyes, they are melting! Sadly her sacrifice was only a temporally fix. The curse was still on going.
Next up was Michi’s turn to meet the Ghost-chan and level up to second level of the curse. In her delusion we got another one of Ghost Aya’s moments. All students were in the chapel praying when Ghost-chan appeared right above the altar, with everyone clueless but Michi who saw her up there. As Ghost-chan approached Michi, bodies started to fall as all the students that she passed by above fell un-conscious. I totally loved that scene too! Just seeing all those girls collapsing as Ghost-chan floated above them and toward Michi like she was some kind of Angel of Death was just superb! When she reached Michi she of course did the whisper thing again (Why not a kiss?! Seriously!).
Since no one noticed Ghost-chan but Michi, I was left confused as to why most of these girls were affected when some of them weren’t. Thankfully that is explained soon after with a flashback when we find out that one of the girls snuck into the shrine and took a picture of Ghost-chan’s photo with their phone. You of course know what happened next. She spread the photo around and all who looked got the curse which explains why almost all the school was affected but a few.
Speaking of the curse, I think that there is stages to it. The first is that you start to have delusions, after you look at the photo. Next you being to sleep-walk, forcing you to kiss the photo. The third and final stage comes after but telling that now would be spoiling so I will leave it for later. The curse as I said is still on-going and Risa and Michi and getting weaker and worse. The two come up with a plan to sleep together and tie their hands together so as not to sleep walk, or if one does, the other would be awoken. That doesn’t work though for when Michi wakes the next morning, Risa is gone!
Not long after, all the missing students so far get found. Their bodies floated down the river and of course they are D.E.A.D! Even Itsuki who had only been mentioned to have been un-conscious is among the dead. Kasumi is there as well. There was five students in total and we see their funeral. Michi is so devastated and so lost that she finally confronts Aya. They never meet because Aya is on the other side of her door and all Michi does is shout at her door but we see that Aya is alive and well in her room. Yeah, all hell was breaking lose, the movie almost half-way and Aya and Michi had yet to even meet!
Michi just about gives up on her life. She is seeing Ghost-chan everywhere she goes. She tells her that she has had enough. She says to Ghost-chan she can take her to where everyone is. She really looked it too. And this time, this time when Ghost-chan leaned in to whisper to Michi I swear to you they kissed! We were given Michi’s point of view and Ghost-chan’s face was not changing direction as it got closer and closer to Michi’s. They even did the blur thing that screams subtext. Her face was right there, her eyes looking at Michi’s lips and I don’t care what anyone says, they totally kissed, even if it was a dream! Which of course had to transition to Michi’s kiss-face back at the altar (wait, that photo is still there?!!)
But Michi is so far gone that she doesn’t manage to stop herself this time. She is about to kiss the photo when someone snatches it away and Michi gets back to her senses. She turns around to find Aya standing there! She of course thinking that Aya is the cause of all the chaos, totally gets scared but Aya tells her that it wasn’t her. This is the first real meeting of these two in the movie! Friends are already dead, the movie feels like it’s already in the final act and these two are only just meeting!!! I was ready to blow a fuse abut then I looked at the time bar and it turns out that we are just barely around the half-way mark. It is 105min long movie so I just sat back and chillaxed!
Aya explains herself to Michi and at the same time confusing me even more when she insisted that she wasn’t the girl in the photo. What disturbed me even more was the fact that she did not show enough interest in the photo despite that being herself right there in that photo! Go ask questions, call your parents to inquire if you had a long lost sister, or something! Instead she just seemed so sure that it wasn’t her and that didn’t settle well with me. Anyway, the movie slows down a bit as they two join forces to figure things out. Even Ghost-chan backs off from Michi for a while, I guess because Aya was involved now.
The two go into town to do some research and we find out about the curse that affects only girls while they are there but with answers also come more questions. Most important, if that wasn’t Aya’s doing and she was not the one in the photo, then who? So many questions but while Ghost-chan is taking a break, trouble comes in the form of the worst evil in the world, humans! Only girls left in school (Remember, almost 95% of the school is unconscious) are super pissed and afraid so of course they would gang up on Aya. She should have laid low still until everything was over but now she is the target of anger and blame.
They go so far as to push her down the stairs and even were planning on killing her because they thought that if she was dead, that the few that are left and those that were already victims would be saved. Michi was around with Aya so of course she was not about to let them kill Aya. She defends her and in order to prove that Aya wasn’t the one at fault, that she doesn’t curse people when they kiss her, Michi does the only thing she could.
She turns to Aya and kisses her!
Right there in front of the remaining few students she kisses Aya and OMG Aya’s reaction after the kiss totally destroyed me! I was like, now you know the feeling of loving another girl dear Aya. Hat look was just so delicious! She even forgot about the people that were set on ending her life with all her attention on Michi! If Aya developed feelings for Michi, this was the very moment that started the spark, without a shadow of a doubt! Sadly this was the only kiss in the movie, which really pains me because if they had gone through with the other to happen later, it would have really been 100% much better an ending! But I am flying as always.
So, with the gang no longer out for Aya’s life, they two continue on with their plan to end the curse because as Michi said, if not them, then they believe that the curse would continue on without anyone being able to stop it. And so they plan. Michi decides to re-start the curse because she believes that they will find out more about the mysterious girl in the photo that way. They go for broke as Michi decides to kiss Ghost-chan’s photo to progress straight to the final boss stage! They also re-try that sleeping together card, but this time they use threads to tie themselves to one another so that in addition to waking up Aya when Michi starts to sleep-walk, she can follow Michi to wherever she is being lured and then save her once they found out the truth.
Everything goes according to plan later than night. Aya is awoken by the tugging of her arm and she finds Michi already up and half-way through the door. She gets up to follow an unconscious Michi and they are lured into the woods where Kasumi disappeared (and where others are believed to have disappeared to as well). But while in the woods an earthquake hits and the two are knocked off their feet. When Aya comes to her senses again, the thread is cut and Mitch is nowhere to be seen. As she searches and shots for Michi, she turns around to find one of the Nuns’ brother standing there. He hits her on the head with a shovel and she is out! He hit her with a shovel! Grrr!
Dick carries Aya to the water reserve that holds so many secrets that are so deep that lives had to be lost to keep that secret, students’ lives! Because get this, from the reveals that follow we find out that all those dead students were killed not by some mysterious force (Ghost-chan) but rather by one of the Nuns with his brother. They killed these students to keep a secret. A secret which was that there was a dead body in the reserve and these students were always lured there while unconscious by Ghost-chan who we were led to believe that was the cause of the deaths. So it turns out that she was actually doing what she was requesting which was to be saved and end the curse. The only way she could do it was to make someone find her body in the waters but every student she managed get to go there never made it because the Nun and her brother would kill them before they got close and revealed what lay in there.
I found this rather strange because they were not the ones that killed the owner of that body. It was the head Nun that had done it. This happened the day Aya came to the school at the age of 7. More secrets are revealed as we find out that Aya had a twin sister with whom she had come to this school with at the age of 7. The head-Nun, for reasons I could not tell, maybe it was a way of trying to stop her own curse (remember, she was the one that started the ghost-haunting when she left her lover to die alone when they were supposed to die together and thus got haunted by that girls’ ghost to this day), decided to kill one of the twins by dumping her in the reserve.
She couldn’t even do it herself. She had to make them make a choice of who would die and since Maya was the elder of the two twins, she decided to die to save her younger sister Aya. The Nun dropped Maya into the reserve and when Aya tried to reach for her to save her, they were separated and the room locked off! So really, I don’t see why the siblings had to take the blame when they are not the ones who killed Maya.
Maybe it was the trauma but Aya forgot all about Maya and the happenings of that day until the same thing was done to her that was done to Maya. When Dick had hit her on the head, he carried her to the reserve to dump her there and leave her for dead, just like they had done to the other girls. He dumped Aya into the waters and locked up the room and left her for dead. It was during this time that Aya is confronted by Maya’s ghost and her memories are returned.
While this is going on, meanwhile Michi was still under the curse. She is almost to the reserve when she too gets stone to the back of the head by the Nun this time. Instead of dumping her into the reserve as well, she takes Michi and attempts to drown her in the river while she is still unconscious. Maybe she thought that she had succeeded but she leaves Michi there who when Aya meets Maya and Maya is finally able to rest in peace, the curse is lifted and Michi regains consciousness. She goes back to the reserve and saves Aya from the waters which left me confused as to how she knew where to go. Did she retain the sleep-walking visons or something?
Anyway what matters is that she saves Aya and the happiness on Aya’s face when she sees Mitch is out of this world! The two hug, smile stupidly at one another, other things get solved, like the siblings killing themselves and the remaining girls still graduating to go into University and become adults. Oh yea, the Head Nun did not even get justice, or at least we don’t see it happen! Like, how could they let her get away with it! At the very least tease us with Maya coming back and this time actually killing someone, even if it would be revenge! Give us a tease for a sequel! Right now with the way things are, there is no more ghosts to wreak havoc at all. There is no legend for us viewers at all.
I say use viewers because in the movie-verse, the legend of Aya lives on as we see when the new term begins and rumours of Aya’s curse starts spreading about a curse that affects only girls which is started by kissing the photo of a girl you love. By the way, how the hell is this school still open?! Just the previous term 5 students were found dead and another 95% fell into a deep coma! Like, how?!!
But before then, we have to have our goodbyes. At least they gave us one. Usually we don’t even get that much! Movies these days I tell you! Then again seeing what happened in this last scene, we might just as well have not received one! Anyway we learn of where the girls are going from here. Aya is going to Tokyo to study photography, Risa chose to study beauty therapy so she could fulfil Itsuki’s dream of opening a manicure shop in her stead. Seriously these two were just so great, weren’t they? But oh so sad too. To think that Risa may have realised how much Itsuki loved her only after she was gone (after the curse was broken and thus was no longer blinded by her love for Aya) is just so sad. During the graduation as Aya sang Ophelia, we are shown Risa and she is crying but I knew that it wasn’t because of Aya but rather she was thinking of Itsuki!
Ah my heart!
Back on track, Aya says that she will be staying behind and that she will grow old here (Because she had promised Maya that she would stay with her forever and leaving town doesn’t support that resolve now, does it?). What was funny was that both of them looked almost as sad and shocked hearing what the other planned. Aya was hoping that Michi would stay behind with her and Michi hadn’t planned on Aya staying behind either.
They are interrupted by a boy who lives at the shrine of the lovers. He has THE camera with him, you know, the one that is from the games and takes pictures of the dead! Turns out that Ghost-chan’s picture was actually taken by this boy who goes around town capturing ghosts. Michi borrows the camera because she wants to take Aya’s photo. She tells Aya that she had wanted to take her photo before, mostly because Kasumi had asked her to. But as Aya poses and Michi goes to take the photo, she stops. There with her in the view-finder are Kasumi, Itsuki and the other dead girls around Aya.
She doesn’t take the photo which confuses Aya seeing as Mitch had said she wanted to take her picture. Mitch says, with tears flowing down her face, that she will go to Tokyo, study photography, get her own camera and then she will come back and take Aya’s photo with her own camera. She asks Aya to wait for her, which to me seemed like a proposal, a promise for something else and that Aya will wait for her.
Aya then comes closer to Michi, caresses Michi’s cheek and rubs away her tears and with this scene, with its atmosphere, I was not even surprised at all, in fact I was waiting for it when Michi leaned in to kiss Aya. It was like Aya offered up herself and didn’t even pull away or change her look when Michi slowly leaned in to kiss her! I was ready for the best ending that promised a great sequel and give me one of the best ships in a while but alas! Their lips only millimetres away, noses even touching, Michi pulls back without kissing Aya! I could even taste the disappointment in Aya even if she did not comment on it or change her expression that much. Seriously, why?!!
Ah but that wasn’t enough bitch-slapping! They had to do ahead and say the forbidden words! The words telling us how the two became adults right then, how their childhood was over and thus telling us that there was no more fooling around. Like, that wasn’t necessary dear Director! You so did not have to include that in there! It totally negated their promise of meeting each other again! And it was so symbolic too, right before that moment! Talk about major disappointment!
And that right there dear Readers is why I gave this movie a BAD END! Just because of that scene! Three frilling sentences ruined the whole thing! They just couldn’t let things vague and suggestive. We could have speculated that maybe Michi was promising more when she said she would come back and for Aya to wait for her! It was perfect had you ended it there but noooo! Why can’t we have nice things?
Any way, some pics to close off…