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The only scary thing about this highly disjointed and pointless J-horror is that it has reached a prestigious film festival on the other side of the planet - live from San Sebastian


A young man is consumed with guilt because of his beloved little sister’s death (the titular Nagisa). Meanwhile, a group of young people drive a car down a very dark tunnel that’s allegedly haunted by an old lady. Suddenly the door opens and the back passenger mysteriously vanishes. His friends stop the vehicle and frantically search for him, but there is little prospect of finding the hapless male in such a dark tunnel.

The young man who lost his sister repeatedly visits the tunnel in the hope of encountering his sister’s ghost. But the ghost turns out to be something else. He continues the search for his late sister in places other than the tunnel, with many developments seemingly taking place inside his own head. There are various sequences in a bedroom, a strange wooden compartment and a restaurant. I have no idea whether these bits and pieces are intended to be reality, dream or allegory, and how gel together.

There is nothing remarkable about Takeshi Kogahara’s debut. The plot is so disjointed that I could barely write the short synopsis above. The cinematography is incredibly dark with a cliched red light, intended to signify danger and death. Most of the time, images are hardly discernible. Poor lighting can be used in order to create a sense of fear and disorientation, common artifices in an effective horror movie. Such isn’t the case here. There is no visual flair, no insight into the characters, and barely anything happens. Not a single jump scare in sight.

I commend a-list film festivals that showcase the occasional genre movie. These unusual picks can offer a refreshing break from the far more serious and sullen flicks that normally feature at such events. The problem is that this Japanese film has absolutely nothing to offer viewers. It is one of the worst films I have seen in years. The only scary thing about Nagisa is that it has somehow crossed to globe and reached such a prestigious a-list festival.

Nagisa has just premiered at the 70th edition of the San Sebastian International Film Festival/ Donostia Zinemaldia.

By Victor Fraga - 23-09-2022

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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