The Neighbor No. 13

"Good"

The Neighbor No. 13 Review


The Neighbor No. 13 is one of those beautifully executed yet logically muddled J-horror films that will impress you much more with its overall look and soundtrack than with its confusing story. This movie gets the stamp of approval from J-horror god Takashi Miike, who shows up in a cameo just long enough to be stabbed to death, but you may not be as enthralled as he apparently was.

Schoolroom bullying, which, if the Japanese cinema is an accurate indicator, is an epidemic in Japan, is at the core of the story. In flashbacks we see that poor Juzo (Shun Oguri) was mercilessly abused by Akai (Hirofumi Arai) and his gang, with the violence culminating in an acid attack on Juzo's face. The teachers were apparently always MIA.

Years later Akai is still a sadist, only now as the boss of a construction crew. Juzo show up to take a job on the crew, and he also become the downstairs neighbor of Akai, his wife, and his cute son in a rundown apartment block. Akai has no idea who Juzo is, but Juzo remembers Akai all too well. Let the revenge begin.

It turns out that Juzo is quite insane, with a personality split perfectly in two. On the surface he is the unscarred nice guy who just wants to get by. Beneath, however, is the identically dressed raging "No. 13" (Shidou Nakamura), the one with the acid-scarred face and the long knife in hand. Departing from the usual split personality strategy, director Yasuo Inoue sometimes shows us both Juzos in the same shot. In fact, nice Juzo is so scared of bad Juzo that at one point he actually tries to shove him out of the room. In the movie's most compelling digressions, the Juzos dance together naked in a red room. Very stylish and creepy. You almost expect the Twin Peaks midget to make an appearance.

Bad Juzo's vendetta against Akai will eventually involve kidnapping, shotguns, samurai swords, and a final, predictable showdown back in the same classroom where the acid attack occurred. Unfortunately, Inoue tacks on a baffling coda which throws absolutely everything in which you've just invested 100 minutes into doubt. It's one of those ambiguous puzzlers that makes you ask, "Well, why did I bother if he was just going to confuse me in the end?"

Nevertheless, Inoue gets credit for telling his contorted tale with style. It's not often in the movies that a split personality gets to have a staring contest with itself.

Aka Rinjin 13-gô, The Neighbor No. Thirteen.

Bad neighbor! Bad neighbor!



Facts and Figures

Production compaines: Amuse Soft Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Yasuo Inoue

Producer: , Hamime Kohama

Starring: Nakamura Shidō II as 13-gô / No. 13, Shun Oguri as Jûzô Murasaki, Hirofumi Arai as Tôru Akai, Yumi Yoshimura as Nozomi Akai, Tomoya Ishii as Hajime Seki, as Shinigami / God of Death, Gekidan Hitori as Comedian on TV, as Kaneda

Also starring:

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