Interview by Sean Boelman
Few names are as synonymous with the J-horror genre as that of Takashi Shimizu, the creator of the Ju-on series (better known in the United States as The Grudge). His newest film, Howling Village, takes a Japanese urban legend and makes a horror movie out of it, full of the director’s iconic haunting visuals. We at disappointment media got the tremendous honor of talking with Shimizu in advance of the film’s release! Find out what we learned below!
disappointment media: Howling Village is based on a real urban legend. What inspired you to make a film out of this?
Takashi Shimizu: The producer approached [me] about some strange things that had happened in this Inunaki Tunnel and what may have happened in the tunnel, a lot of it has been taken up on the internet, and everybody has chimed in with their own version and their own ideas. And basically, [I] took all of that and started to put it together into a script.
disappointment: Superstition is a key factor in many of your films, including Howling Village. What draws you to exploring this theme in your films?
Shimizu: There are superstitions and superstitions do have some basis in reality sometimes, and sometimes they don’t. And a lot of people who are superstitious think about their superstitions, talk about them, and that [grey area] gives a lot of room for the doubt that needs to exist for a good horror movie.
disappointment: The setting is almost another character in Howling Village. What about these locations stood out to you?
Shimizu: Every place has a certain kind of existence, if you like, an existence of its own. But obviously, some places are kind-of boring. [I] like these forgotten places, where people used to live, and to sort-of imagine the people that lived there, what they did, and to give existence to these places that a lot of people wouldn’t think exist anymore.
disappointment: Your films contain some iconic creepy images. How did you create some of the imagery in Howling Village?
Shimizu: [I] was a terrible coward as a child. [I] was scared all the time, so basically that’s where [I’m] making up all these images from.
disappointment: Different countries have different styles of horror. What do you think makes Japanese horror so unique?
Shimizu: Other places, they basically create monsters and so on — and not to say that Japan never does that — that sort-of scare you directly. [My] sense of Japanese films is that it is the sense that something is terrifying, less than the actual terrifying thing itself, the creation of an ominous quality.
Howling Village hits theaters August 13 and VOD on August 17.