It is not often that I have trouble getting through a movie. With Shock Labyrinth it took me four attempts to make it all the way through. It is not because it is shocking, oh no. I had trouble watching this entire movie because it is so utterly and completely boring. Seriously, this is a good cure for insomnia. I wish I could report differently, I mean, it was only ten years ago that writer/director Takashi Shimizu joined the likes of Hideo Nakata (Ringu) as a top flight voice on the Japanese horror scene with the Ju-on films. Shock Labyrinth finds the creator shuffling with a tale that feels less than fresh and needlessly convoluted.
The movie, like the Pirates of the Caribbean series, is based on a popular amusement park attraction. The inspiration came from the Haunted Hospital at the Fuji-Q Amusement Park. I do not have a frame of reference for the ride, but I think it is safe to say it did not translate to the screen nearly as well as the Disney films (the first one, anyway).
The movie tells the story of a group of kids who go into the haunted house after hours. Their exploration ends with the mysterious disappearance of their friend, Yuki, seemingly dragged away into the darkness. It is an event that will haunt them for years to come.
We shift ahead ten years and pick up with the friends as they are getting together for a visit. Things are going fine until a woman shows up at the door and claims to be their long missing friend. This, of course, brings up questions about her true identity and where has she been all this time. Before they get any answers, she falls Into a comatose state. They drive to the hospital and then the real fun begins.
The group arrives at the hospital and find it oddly barren. There are no signs of any doctors nor of any patients. As they explore the empty halls, they soon recognize the fact they are not actually in a hospital, but the haunted attraction from their youth. They walk around, confused and frightened about just what is going on.
The longer they walk around, the more they remember bits and pieces of that fateful day from their youth. What happened? What happened to Yuki? Well, it seems there was more going on that day than just a friend going missing and this odd return to the location of the tragedy starts stirring the guilt that is burning inside each of them.
Essentially, Shock Labyrinth is tale of ghostly revenge. Each member of this group has their own reason for guilt, their own level of involvement in the events of the day and this is making them finally deal with them.