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Re/Member (2022) Review

Re/Member, (Karada Sagashi, カラダ探し), started out as a manga, running from 2011 to 2014. It was adapted into an anime in 2017, and now is a live action film pitting a group of high school students against an angry spirit known as The Red Person.

After a prologue showing a young girl being stalked and murdered on a stormy night, we join our heroine Asuka (Kanna Hashimoto, Sailor Suit and Machine Gun: Graduation, The Violence Action) on her way to school. A loner with few friends, school is already unpleasant for her but today, July 5th, is going to be worse. She sees a cat killed by a bus on her way to school, and once there, starts to have disturbing visions and a disembodied voice asks her to find its body.

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That night she wakes up to find herself back at school along with five classmates Takahiro (Gordon Maeda, Tokyo Revengers, Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight), Atsushi, (Fûju Kamio, Suicide Forest Village, Rolling Marbles), Rumiko (Maika Yamamoto, Assassination Classroom: The Graduation, Deadman Inferno), Rie (Mayu Yokota, Kamen Rider Saber, Girls Don’t Cry), and Shota (Kotarô Daigo, The Battle: Roar to Victory, Shibuya2036).

A figure covered in blood kills, a figure we recognize as the girl from the opening scenes, them all. Asuka wakes up again, back in her bed, only to find the date is still July 5th, and she’s got a horrible feeling of déjà vu.

As you can guess, Re/Member is another time loop film, and that voice asking Asuka to find its body is the key, as they’ve been selected to play what is called The Body Game. But it’s not as simple as finding a body, it’s been dismembered, and the pieces scattered, so it’s kind of like hunting Easter Eggs while being chased by a Rottweiler.

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Director Eiichiro Hasumi (Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness, Mozu the Movie) and writer Harumi Doki (Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 – Sustainable War, Cyborg 009: Call of Justice) get things off to a decent start as the various members of the group start to remember what happened and are forced to put their differences aside and work together. They find a nice balance between the Breakfast Club teen bonding and Dream Warriors style teen horror for much of Re/Member’s first half.

But then there’s a music video styled montage of them finding body parts that is totally devoid of thrills. That plus a long sequence of them at the beach threaten to totally derail Re/Member before the final act ups the stakes with a change to the rules of the game and brings the film’s focus back to horror.

Granted, Re/Member is never overly frightening or bloody, it’s J Horror aimed at a teen audience, and it doesn’t try to rewrite the rules of the genre. The worst of the violence is kept off-screen or glimpsed quickly. The scares are mostly jump scares, although some of the scenes, especially the final fight with the transformed ghost go work up a good bit of tension. The effects are somewhat hit and miss with some fairy bad CGI in a couple of places, but most of what we get, and that isn’t really a lot, is acceptable.

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What does set Re/Member apart is the way it incorporates the plot’s dramatic and genre plot threads. In one of the final act’s quieter moments, we find out why they, out of everyone in the school, were chosen for The Body Game. Once we learn that, several things, including the title’s dual meanings, make a lot more sense.

While it’s still not what I would call essential viewing, Re/Member is a cut above a lot of similar films. The fights with the ghost tend to be fast paced and energetic, and there’s a bit more to the plot than just a collection of jump scares. If you’re looking for a way to kill some time, it should do the job nicely.

Re/Member is currently available on Netflix in a variety of dubbed and subtitled versions. My review is based on the English subtitled version. If you don’t have Netflix, FilmTagger can suggest something similar.

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