Re/Member is a time loop story, survival horror, high school romance, and murder mystery wrapped into one. (Read: Messy!!)
Re/Member (カラダ探し) Synopsis
School outcast Asuka wakes up on July 5 and goes through another depressing day, before gruesomely killed by a blood-soaked monster in a nightmare. The next day, she wakes up on July 5 again and quickly realises that her classmates and her are stuck in a murderous time loop game called Karada Sagashi. Should they not be able to reassemble the dismembered corpse of the game, they will forever be trapped. Ultimately, they might even be erased from existence.
Re/Member is based on the Karada Sagashi manga series, which I’m not at all familiar with. Despite that, I immediately streamed this live-action J-horror flick after reading Netflix’s synopsis.
I mean, the synopsis describes the show as a time loop story, with gore, a murder mystery, and six attractive young leads. Sounds like a winner, you’d think? Moreover, I was keen to watch Gordon Maeda. I like his version of Mitsuya in the live-action adaptation of Tokyo Revengers. I used to love his dad’s movies too.
Well, Gordon delivered a mature and restrained portrayal of love interest and hero Takahiro. So did the rest of the young cast too—the ladies, thank goodness, were hysteria-free. The gore, which is plentiful, is generally gratuitous and plastic but if that’s what you get your kicks from, I suppose it does the job.
The above aside, though, there is really nothing much else to love about this flick. The entire adaptation does a haphazard job of explaining the mystery behind the time loop. Neither does it explore the inner agonies of the six players, which is what the story is actually all about. Six isolated, alienated youths dumped into an absurd survival horror adventure, and because of that, encouraged to grow beyond their pain.
Worse, some parts of the movie simply don’t gel, the most awful example being the rom-comish beach outing scene. Now, I know characters like Tree from Happy Death Day had a load of fun from time looping and repeatedly dying, and I guess most people would eventually do the same too in a similar predicament. But Tree Gelbman went through rounds and rounds of horror and denial before embracing the “truth.” You just don’t see or sense this at all in Re/Member.
The kids embrace their disaster right away. They know what’s to be done and the next day after being slaughtered a second time, they are besties and enjoying parfaits together and taking selfies. To celebrate what they believe is their progression into the final stage of the game, they head to a beautiful beach to chill.
None of the horrific deaths seem to affect them much too. In Re:Zero, Subaru Natsuki was so utterly traumatized by his repeated violent deaths but none of that happens here. Beyond a point, I began to wonder whether Asuka and Takahiro, etc, experienced pain when gored or dismembered.
Repeat: It just doesn’t gel.
My dissatisfaction led me to investigate the source material. Just five minutes into this and I realised how much mythos was left out or simplified. How Re/Member is yet another example of a much longer story being squeezed into two hours.
But a mini-series wouldn’t necessarily be a better treatment too, because everything would then depend on whether there’s budget and freedom to dish out all those blood-soaked spectacles. Perhaps this is one story that’s better left in the print realm.
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