It’s the horror film that will actually make you want to turn off the lights. On today’s installment of “31 Days of Horror,” it’s the short, Japanese animated film, Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek.
When I was a teen, we used spend late nights hanging out on a particular street. The story went that a boy died on the street, and if you stayed quiet, and waited long enough, the ghost of the boy would appear. I don’t think we ever thought we’d actually see the ghost. Mostly it was just something to do, and if we did see the ghost, well, we’d have an awesome story to tell.
Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek starts out in a similar fashion. A group of kids venture into an old, abandoned, part of a city to play the game Otokoyo (manhunt), a version of hide and seek. Whispered rumors say that kids who go to the abandoned city to play the game, never come back.
Most of the characters appear to go as something to do, to see what all of the Urban Legend fuss is about. Hikora however, is in search of his sister, Sorincha, who disappeared after playing Otokoyo.
Per the rules of Otokoyo, the kids are required to wear fox masks. You never see their actual faces, though the embellishments on their masks do seem to represent their personalities.
The masks definitely create a weirdness, and they are important to the plot, but they also create a bit of a disconnect with the characters. You don’t feel all that upset when the kids start getting picked off one by one.
The kids discover that the rumors are true. There is a game of hide and seek being played. It truly is a manhunt. They are the prey being hunted by demons.
The first few demons aren’t that scary. They are large, lumbering, and have a mechanical feel. I’m pretty sure I could outrun them if needed. It’s part of the brilliance of the film. You start out thinking, this isn’t scary at all. By the fourth demon you think, okay, that one’s unsettling, and by the fifth demon, things escalate to being seriously freaky.
The film is worth watching for the great ending. Hikora finds his sister. He ends up discovering the fate of all of the kids who have played Otokoyo throughout the years.
That’s all I will say. It’s better to experience it for yourself. I will say that the ending is meant to be a commentary on Tokyo’s loss of innocence and the downfall of having a growing reliance on technology. Knowing that makes the ending all the more disturbing.
I like a good scare, it’s gore I’m not a big fan of, so I appreciate a film that can creep me out, and give me chills, without all of the slicing and dicing. Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek is a creative take on the teen Urban Legend concept. It’s the perfect film to produce a freaked out feeling without giving you eternal nightmares.