Kubo (Ai Hashimoto) is a young university who lives alone in a small apartment. While studying alone at night, she hears an unusual sound, like a scraping noise, emerge from her bedroom. When she looks, nothing is there. Though when she turns away, the sound returns. Troubled by this, she writes to a famous author (Yuko Takeuchi), who collects stories such as this. As the two investigate, it appears there is no reason for the apartment to be haunted, no recent history of traumatic events. But, further investigation reveals others suffering from similar hauntings and a remarkable, tragic story that connects the experiences.
The Inerasable is adapted from an acclaimed novel by Fuyumi Ono. From it, director Yoshihiro Nakamura has managed to create a remarkable piece of horror cinema. As he two women research the events, we get story within story as the history of the land and the people who lived there is revealed. The tone is more creepy than scary, more old style unsettling than new school disturbing. If anything, the moments of outright horror almost feel unnecessary, like an excessive garnish on what is already a very appealing dish.
Takeuchi in particular, is brilliant as the unnamed author, who oscillates between the high drama of researching Kubo’s case and the more mundane experience of buying and building a new house with her husband. Of course, this act is no trivial thing, since in Japanese culture, the act of preparing land for a new dwelling, the Shinto groundbreaking ceremony that purifies the land, is essential.
The Inerasable is sharp piece of cinema, part old school ghost story, part crime procedural. The constantly inventive cinematography from Yukihiro Okimura helps to bring to life each era of the story as the film does its narrative archeology, digging through the way one generation’s evils inform and trouble the next. With assured direction and outstanding performances this is a different kind of horror film that could appeal to a broad range of film goers.