Cry, "Havoc!" and let slip the doves of war.
What They Say
Ever since that fatal incident in college, Kanako has sensed them. A sound behind her - an object moving at the corner of her vision. Birds. Cooing, taunting birds - But are they real, or just in her head? As she struggles to perform her duties teaching marine biology, the images of pigeons slowly begin to drive her to the edge of insanity, until even drugs and alcohol no longer offer her protection. And what if they aren't figments of her imagination? What if that strange rumor she heard at the crime scene was true? If it was, then the real nightmare is only beginning! Vengeance has wings and the sky is filled with terror in Gun-Kyu!
The feature only contains a Japanese 2.0 audio track. It is primarily center speaker driven with some of the music coming from the side and back speakers as well though at a much lower level.
The feature was created in 2008 and is a video-philes whats-what of things that can go wrong. When the Japanese company that produced the feature's logo is surrounded by noise a warning flare goes up. Sadly the film doesn't get much better as there is constant noise, line aliasing and some flickering of the picture throughout the film. There is also a softness to the video to add to the list of factors where the disc falls short.
The front features the lead woman in gray and black shading. There is a pigeon in front of the left side of her face with it's head looking like it is taking the place of her left eye as its own red eye seems to glare menacingly. The background is a gray one with many pigeons in flight. The boarder for the front and back is the standard red Switchblade banner. The back has a color shot of the lead actress as well as three stills from the film against a gray background which has a barbed wire topped chain link fence and pigeon silhouettes.
The main menu has the lead actress and pigeon picture from the front and combines it with the chain link fence and pigeon silhouettes from the back. An instrumental track from the film plays in the background. The menu select is quick to respond and the selected choice icon looks to be pigeon dropping shaped (though bright orange) which plays into scenes from the film.
There are no extras for this feature.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The film opens with a close up on a fire fighting cistern which is a small (maybe 3 foot high) concrete box filled with water. As the camera pans back the kanji on the cistern has water spilling on it. First a little then some more. As the camera pans further back it is shown that the water is splashing out do to a young boy drowning in it. Only his frantically kicking legs and waist can be seen. As the scene cuts to one where the police detectives have shown up they express disbelief how someone could have drown in so little a container especially since he had no injuries. At this point the camera finds a young woman in a lab coat named Kanako who is looking on. She leaves the scene and meets with her boyfriend Daisuke, who is a vet, and they discuss how a middle school child could drown on the campus of the Capital Marine University. He asks how the students are taking the news and warns Kanako to be careful. She returns to the university and parks her car just in time to have a pigeon defecate on her windshield.
After teaching her class in marine biology and following up with a lab where a student of hers will be interning she goes to her office to continue her fish research. As she leaves her office later that night she hears a noise coming at her in the hall and ducks only to not see anything. Puzzled she leaves the hall and gets to her car to see the front windshield completely covered in bird droppings. She comes home to the apartment she shares with her boyfriend late. As she is sleeping in the next morning he is watching a program covering the death of the child and two of the students at the university hints there is a rumor at the school that bad things happen when that cistern is filled with water.
Kanako goes past the cistern the next day and sees the janitor putting a flower into the cistern. As Kanako is in her office later she hears the same loud noise from the night before as well as pigeon cooing. As she enters the hall to look she sees a few pigeons fly overhead and then numerous pigeon droppings falling from the roof of the hall before a flock of pigeons come charging at her. She talks about this the next day with her boyfriend who explains that pigeons are not active at night and tells her she must be imagining things for some reason. She is upset he doesn't believe her but then starts to hear the sounds at the park. Later that night Daisuke tries to talk to her a little rationally and tells her he will protect her.
As Kanako gets to work the next day there are more pigeon droppings on her windshield and she hears the same noise again. She gets to the end of the hall and opens the fire door there to see that the janitors room is just a little further down the corridor. She sees his cuckoo clock go off and leaves to see the droppings falling from the top of the hall again and the birds coming after her, clawing her eyes out. She believes it was just an illusion...until she goes home and sees scratches on her neck and a big red spot on her eye. At home she turns on TV to find the boy who drown and his friends had been committing acts of brutality against the pigeons on the campus.
Kanako meets with a couple of her friends to talk about what she is seeing and discuss her fears but finds they are less than fully believing of what she sees. Kanako goes back to the school to find the hall floor covered in pigeons and has a vision of them scratching her eyes out again but also a flashback to WW II and a young boy which finally ends in him drowning a cage of pigeons in the universities cistern. As she gets up from the floor she finds herself drawn to the cistern almost unconsciously...
The film does a nice job of setting what could have been a suspenseful story and providing an appropriate setting and mood. Sadly it also does a poor job of flushing out the main characters and of building the suspense. All of the materials are in place to construct a decent if not spectacular genera piece but the pieces are just assembled in such a way that the suspense is muted and so is a feeling of connection with the protagonist.
Gun-Kyu is a film that has an interesting premise, some skilled camera work and settings but just fails to build the suspense into anything meaningful. The end feels a touch out of sorts due to this and the lack of building up the conditions necessary to make the film truly stand out as a thriller. It has promise but its failure to fully execute that promise maybe as memorable if not more so than the film itself.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Samsung 50" Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Reciever with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, JVC DVD player XV-FA95GD