Ryuta Sato …. Shogo
Tartan Asian Extreme presents The Booth. Written by Yoshihiro Nakamura Min. Running Time: 74 minutes. Not Rated
We open with the talk show host of a radio dating show. A female caller explains how she is in love with a man but his parents don’t approve and they’ve decided to commit suicide together. The host tells them not to do it. She explains that it’s already done, that they did it 30 years ago, but he didn’t die. We quickly understand the host is the guy who didn’t die, and she wants him to join her. The techs are distracted by an electronic malfunction and try to fix it. When they look up the host his hanging in the booth, dead. A great stage setting for this thriller with a spark of the supernatural.
Cut to several years later. Shogo is an arrogant, condescending radio DJ, host of Love Line Tokyo. His normal booth is being remodeled so Shingo and his crew are forced to broadcast out of an old booth (see above). As the night goes on and the callers start calling in a creepy female voice continues to cut into and say “Liar.” Also, each caller’s dilemma relates to Shingo’s past and we see how he has hurt everyone of his crew, including Mabuchi, who he stole from one of his co-workers then later dumped. They got in a huge fight and… sorry can’t tell you that. Stranger and stranger things begin to happen and Shingo slowly starts losing his cool, thinking they are all against him. He really freaks out when he sees a girl in the booth who he thinks is dead!
Where this film works is the claustrophobia of being in the booth almost the whole time. The only time we leave the booth is when it cuts to a flashback. This is Ryuta’s first starring role and he carries it wonderfully. We see how much of a jerk he is and what mistakes he’s made in his past and how they lead to his decent into paranoia.
Where the film falters (and it’s really not all that bad) is the all too convenient coincidence of each caller’s dilemma fitting perfectly into Shingo’s rocky past. The first few work just fine but after awhile it just seems to get repetitive. However the flashbacks work really well to develop Ryuta as a character.
The end is great because it seems to be building to an obvious ending, then what you think is going to happen it totally debunked leaving you primed for a great twist.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 8/10
TOTAL POINTS: 42/50
FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10
Shogo ponders his past mistakes.
The film is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1. The opening flashback is really grainy and while at first it seems a mistake we quickly learn it was just to make the flashback atmospheric, cause the rest of the film looks great.
This film is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Surround 5.1 and it sounds great. The film is in Japanese with English subtitles.
“The Making Of” The Booth: This featurette is mostly a candid interview with star Ryuta Sato. He talks continually about how this is his first starring role and he’s nervous about doing it right. It’s a great look at a first time actors time on a film set.
Q&A with Director and Actor: This is a live Q&A before a showing of the film. Although the Director doesn’t say much, Ryuta Sato has a great stage presence and is very entertaining. Nothing is learned about the film but Ryatu talks about how much he loved radio as a kid.
On-Air Interview with the Filmmakers: Radio interview with the director and actor Mansaku Ikeuchi. Mansaku doesn’t talk much and nothing new is learned about the film. It’s just a promo for the film.
Original Theatrical Trailer
Includes trailers for Pray, Marebito, Natural City, R-Point, & Ab-Normal Beauty.