Atemporality and Communal Ethics in the Films of Shimizu Takashi

  • Michael J. Blouin


Japanese horror films of the late twentieth century contemplate spectral entities of an atemporal sort. Contrastingly, mainstream American horror cinema re-enforces traditional temporal paradigms. Consider, as one example, the paranormal presence in the recent Paranormal Activity series (2007–2011): the phantoms do not call into doubt the stability of the character’s subjectivity by disrupting the chronological certainty of their world. While we have hereto surveyed significant elements of contemporary life—imperial expansion, female oppression and resistance, the nuclear event, illusions among those held under the sway of late capitalism—the homogenization of time-based paradigms remains to be examined. Specifically, recent Japanese horror films (known colloquially as “J-Horror”) de-familiarize constructs of temporality while American remakes habitually navigate around these anxieties by inserting an authentic origin at the heart of the haunting—and thus, restore a sense of linearity.1 These alterations continue to provoke a shared cultural anxiety that, repressed beneath the rigid markings of cinematic time, there resides a gaping lacuna.


Emphasis Mine Spectral Network Late Capitalism Horror Cinema American Audience 
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  1. 1.
    We might consider, for example, the pairing of Miike Takashi’s Chakushin ari (2003) with its American remake under the direction of Eric Valette, One Missed Call (2008). Miike’s film experiments with the atemporality of a spectral entity that can move freely between characters (and generations). On the other side, Valette’s film removes this type of uncertainty in favor of a clear-cut protagonist (Beth) struggling against a ghost with a definitive history. In “J-Horror” remakes, this is not uncommon: a protagonist embroiled inside of the haunting within the original in the remake maintains critical distance, fostering the trope of an American witness. For more, see Michael J. Blouin, “Specters of Modernity: Japanese Horror Uncovers Anxiety for a Post-Bubble America.” Japan Studies Review 14 (2010), pp. 3–15.Google Scholar

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© Michael J. Blouin 2013

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  • Michael J. Blouin

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