While the debate rages on as to whether 3D is truly the path that all films will tread in the future or if it's just another flash in the pan gimmick we will be treated to a variety of eye-poppers. The latest contribution into this mighty pantheon that will take it's place alongside such greats as Clash of the Titans, Resident Evil: Afterlife and Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience is Shock Labyrinth 3D.It is the first three-dimensional film to bust from Japanese screens. On the surface J-Horror cliches seem ripe for some 3D treatment. Perhaps Ringu would have been more intense had Sadako actually crept out of our TV sets as well. Things looked promising too on noting that Shock Labyrinth 3D is directed by Takashi Shimizu changing things up a bit by helming something isn't another variation of Ju-On: The Grudge.
The story be this: after many years away Ken (Yuya Yagira) returns to his hometown to see his friend Motoki (Ryo Katsuji) and his blind sister Rin (Ai Maeda). Whilst preparing for a lovely dinner Rin is disturbed by a knock at the door, the voice claims to be that of Yuki an old friend who went missing years ago in a 'haunted' scare attraction. Wanting to get to the bottom of things Ken, Motoki, Run and Yuki's sister head to the amusement park where things went oh so wrong and have to relive the past in order to work out the present mystery.
Shock Labyrinth 3D starts off with an interesting mystery plot that dulls down quickly into "I really don't give a shit" territory. When I say quickly I mean literally in the first five minutes. It becomes evident even quicker that the 3D application is not going to used to it's full extent. There seems to a rotation of 3D water drops, steam and a cuddly bunny that seems to be coming out the screen every 10 minutes, well hells bells Margaret where's my inhaler? The overall lack of 3D moments makes the compulsive use of specs throughout the film a real pain. Half the time it is virtually impossible to see the action on screen. Apparently the real Shock Labyrinth - a genuine scare attraction in Japan - was used as the primary set. It's probably the best thing on show here. An dingy, filthy series of corridors that feels more like a disused factory than a labyrinth.
The other problem as well as the lack of 3D moments is the films general lack of scares. When your watching a horror you want a couple of chills, it is three dimensional a couple of jump scares should have gone without question. No. The chilling atmosphere basically consists of thunder cracks over a dimly lit building. The jump scares consist of loud music cues and things slowly emerging into frame like a Stannah stairlift. Not much to say about the acting. The gang of friends gamely try to look inquisitive and scared but are reduced to standing wide-eyed and shivering like Scooby-Doo's gang. Long before the film reaches it's "shocking" climax my interest had all but evaporated, forgetting that there was even an initial mystery that required explanation.
Many people have commented that Shock Labyrinth seems a misstep on the part of Takashi Shimizu. I have to confess I have never been a fan of Ju-On in any of it's forms. The original straight-to-video versions, the original cinematic versions and the American remakes. I always found them slow and lacking atmosphere, so Shock Labyrinth comes as no surprise. Though it would have been fantastic to see the spark that so many others see in Shimizu's work. To sum up this review in the most eloquent, wittiest way I can, I'll just say "Shock Labyrinth more like... Shit Labyrinth".
Out today on DVD available in a double pack with 3D and 2D versions. If you feel the need to see I would go with the 2D version - easier on the eyes.
Shock Labyrinth 3D - *