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With: Ryuta Sato, Maiko Asano, Makoto Ashikawa, Mansaku Ikeuchi, Hijiri Kojima, Masaki Miura, Mai Takahashi
Written by: Yoshihiro Nakamura
Directed by: Yoshihiro Nakamura
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Running Time: 75
Date: 11/05/2005

The Booth (2005)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Shock Radio

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Yoshihiro Nakamura's new The Booth is the latest in a current flood of Japanese horror -- inspired by the international success of Ringu (1998) and its American remake, "The Ring" -- but this one is quite above average thanks to a brisk, "B"-movie pace (74 minutes) and a superb lead performance by Ryuta Sato.

Sato plays Shogo, a DJ on a late-night radio talk show, specializing in love problems. It's the last day before the show moves to a new studio and they're temporarily using a run-down booth.

A prologue shows us how the booth is haunted and already caused the death of one hapless DJ, and Shogo and his beleaguered crew begin to hear strange noises as well.

Nakamura's script continually shifts gears, moving from surprise to surprise, and Sato anchors the action. Though he spends 90% of the film sitting in his booth and speaking with offscreen co-stars, his eyes and his delivery continually keep us with him.

As for chills, I admit the movie had me in its thrall more than once -- especially as the climax looms. The little hairs on the back of my neck got a workout. It's too bad this gem didn't net an American theatrical release when so many inferior horrors did.

DVD Details: Tartan's DVD, released on their "Asia Extreme" label, comes with a 'Making of' documentary, a Q&A session with Nakamura and Sato, interviews and trailers.

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