Monday, 20 February 2012

Japanese and British Horror

Japanese horror has a background in old folk religion, such as possession or exorcisms. This can be seen in films such as 'The Ring' or 'The Grudge', in which spirits are unable to pass on from this existence due to strong emotions. This is a repeated theme in Japanese horror. There are different terms for the kind of binding the ghost has to the world depending on the emotion that they experience. The most common is known as 'Onryo', which is the need for revenge. This kind of idea is also reflected in other Japanese media such as manga novels or anime, showing the genre's popularity in the culture.
This idea is also used in Western cinema, although perhaps not with the same frequency. There is also a difference in that Japanese horrors often incorporate intense gore or grotesque beings into the horror films while depending on the rating of American or British films the violence can be completely downplayed and only suggested. This could suggest a difference in the acceptance of gore between the cultures, or just the difference in cinematic themes as gore becomes more intense in Western cinema constantly. This difference could therefore link to the number and variety of media texts available, such as video games as well as cinema. If there is more available in Asian culture, it could be understandable that they are more accepting of violent gore. As more media is introduced into Western culture (as it is often actually developed in Japan, for example), the Western acceptance of gore is also heightened as audience become more used to it and expect more in order to be shocked.
British horrors are becoming more popular in a variety of genres, such as '28 Days Later', a zombie apocalyptic film, and 'Creep', more of a slasher film. Often, the subjects are more physical violence-based, such as the idea of cannibals and werewolves, as opposed to the more abstract theme of spirits. Certainly, some of the better known British films are films such as 'Shaun of the Dead', '28 Days Later' and 'The Descent', all of which focus on humanoid creatures and physical threats. While some themes of these horrors are transferable to other genres, such as the idea of imprisonment or vulnerability, the main cause of the disequilibrium is not as commonly spirits as in Asian cinema. A factor in the difference in cinema could be the budget afforded to the creation of the film. British budgets are often much smaller than in Japanese cinema, so the effects that can be achieved are lessened, so the horror must be more reality-based.
The differences in cultures could be linked with what is popular in the cultures at the time of creating the film. In Japanese film the folklore element is often used due to the traditional nature of their culture, while British media and the news is often linked with more physical problems such as spreading viruses (which could cause an influx in zombie films) or human criminals (which could cause the creation of films linked with human threats such as 'Gnaw', featuring cannibals). That which is reported in the news that affect the population, such as the case of Tony Martin who shot a teenage burglar, are recreated and reflected in the cinema.
Tony Martin's crime was reported inspiration for 'The Reeds'. The co-writer and co-producer of the film, Simon Sprackling, stated that this effect is how many British horrors are now "urban-based". Despite this, there are still a number of possessive themed films, especially in recent years. For example, 'The Disappeared' uses this urban theme but creates a haunted house idea within a council estate. It could be said that Western cinema became more involved in mysterious elements due to the Asian cinema using it as a theme repeatedly.
British cinema also uses classical British idiosyncrasies as a basis for films, such as the idea of team-building days or council flats.
The combination of Japanese and Western cinema is shown by the Japanese horror director Hideo Nakata working with a mainly British cast for the film 'Chatroom'. It is also shown in the number of Japanese horrors that have been remade for English speaking audiences. As effects become cheaper to achieve and technical abilities improve, it is becoming easier to create the sort of supernatural effects that are seen in supernatural films. Remakes are also a clear indication of the combination of the two cultures, although differences still exist between the original and the remade version. American remakes are usually more simple than the Asian film which can be very complex, and accepted rules of life can be completely revoked but with little explanation.

Through examining the differences between the two cultures we have decided to incorporate elements of Japanese horror into the British film we are making. Due to the popularity of spiritual haunting in Japanese film, we will use inspirations from the culture in our film, such as the idea of revenge driving the spirit. Japanese media has also popularised school uniforms, so we may refer to the Japanese culture of the inspiration of our character's costumes. We will also use some typically British techniques such as using British idiosyncrasies as a basis. We will use the idea of British private school girls in our film. Although urban areas such as council estates are being used frequently in British cinema, we are going to use a more typically American location of a large house as the main location in order to support the representation of the characters as wealthy. Due to the budget we will move away from Japanese horror conventions of intense gore and use minimal injuries instead of mutilation. This will also add to the mystery of the supernatural when no immediate source of the threat is seen.


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