Japanese Reviews Reviews

Film Review: Ghost Master (2020) by Paul Young

Films based on the making of a movie is something that's no stranger to cinema, with the site even making a list of our favorites on the subject not too long ago, proving the diversity of the subject matter out there. Now, director throws his latest attempt at the genre into the mix with this brazen horror/comedy feature screening at Film Fest Hamburg.

” is screening at Japan Film Fest Hamburg:

Arriving on the set of his newest film, director Atushi Suzuki (Shinichi Shinohara), his cast of Yuya, () Momose, (Marika Nagao) Kenshin (Motohisa Harashima), Mana () and crew, featuring assistant director Akira Kurosawa () and sound recorder Keiko () begin work on a romantic teen drama in an abandoned school. When a conflict with the script causes half of the gathered principles to walk out on strike, Kurosawa is left in charge of the production and decides to keep on shooting. When a special script he had been writing gets loose on set, comes to life and begins possessing the cast members left, he's forced to take drastic action to save them from dying.

Generally, “Ghost Master” was a pretty enjoyable horror/comedy. That comes through from the start, with the first half focusing on the shotting of the high school-set love story. The frantic physical comedy with the characters' clumsiness, the awkwardness of not taking the story seriously and the cliched nature of what the crew is shooting create a wholly enjoyable light-hearted tone. The comedy here comes from the familiar and expected setups and brings some genuine laughs that go hand-in-hand with the outrageous and silly horror sequences. The scene of Yuya getting overwhelmed by the demon book and possessed is full of overt slapstick comedy and is silly enough to come off far goofier than what's supposed to happen. The majority of the setpieces with the possessed running through the cast and crew alternate from being outright cheesy to just plain silly, which makes the finale seem that much more intriguing by mixing together the over-the-top aspects with more reserved setpieces and has a lot to like as a result.

When “Ghost Master” drops the comedy to go for straightforward horror, it's not as enjoyable, but still has plenty of positives. The dramatic turning point when the possessed actor turns on everyone and murders the scene-partner in complete astonishment of everyone watching is a fantastic switch. Knowing that the individual is possessed all along and seeing how it plays out with the severed body lurching around spurting blood everywhere makes the scene rather intense. The various confrontations on the possessed Yuya contain even more violent outbursts as the demonic powers granted provide plenty of brutal and graphic scenes that still retain a comedic edge, but are still played seriously enough to be threats to the survivors. There's even plenty of action into the finale where the fighting becomes quite impactful as the idea of using the romance angle to stop the horror film moments intertwines the two quite nicely. Managing to feature some great special effects work for the kills and on the demon itself, there's quite a lot to enjoy.

Still, there are some problems present. The biggest problem in “Ghost Master” is the utterly unbelievable reactions to the action that's going on which doesn't make any sense. Watching a film-shoot take place where one of the cast smashes a co-star's face to a pulp in one singular punch would result in more of an outcry and sense of panic than what we get here, which is simply confusion and disbelief. That carries over into the later scenes where everyone is more concerned with posting status updates on social media rather than trying to find a way of escape and the comedic tone to the situation ruins the horror and just isn't funny. This is a factor that might stick out for some viewers who might find none of the humor funny and the attempts to laugh fall flat, making this seem like a painful plodding effort. Likewise, the finale is the other big issue where it just goes on way too long as if director Young didn't know how to really end things and just kept it going way too long than necessary. The result is a feeling that too many things happen and it drags on past where it should've, but beyond that, not much else is really wrong here.

With some likable aspects and not too many flaws, “Ghost Master” turned out to be quite enjoyable at times. Fans of wild Asian horror/comedies or just plain goofy genre efforts would be the most likely targets for the film while viewers who aren't too impressed with this style won't be too entertained by this one.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter