‘The Neighbor No. Thirteen’


Also known as The Neighbor in No. 13, which would have been a more straightforward title for this fairly routine exercise in J-horror portentousness. Borrowing liberally but not judiciously from several obvious candidates ( Psycho, The Shining, Donnie Darko), Neighbor finds Juzo (Shun Oguri) moving into the apartment directly below Akai (Hirofumi Arai), the grown-up bully who poured acid on Juzo’s face back in grade school. Turns out Juzo now has a split personality, but his murderous other half takes a long time to assert his presence. Mostly, the sense of foreboding is established by incessant, Lynchian soundtrack rumbling, leading to numerous ominous scenes of characters watching TV and drinking Sapporos. Director Yasuo Inoue manages a delicate switch of sympathy after an instance of child endangerment raises the stakes. But because the metaphysics driving it are so fuzzy, this is the rare horror film where even sludgy viscera elicit only yawns.