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Turn   C-

Asmik Ace Entertainment

Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Hideyuki Hirayama
Writer: Osamu Murakami (based on the novel by Kaoru Kitamura)
Cast: Riho Makise, Kazuki Kitamura, Akira Emoto, Mitsuko Baisho.

Review by Jim Harper

Turn has attracted a small degree of media attention recently after being selected to receive the American remake treatment. Oddly enough, it isn't a horror film. Inaccurately described as "the Japanese Groundhog Day," in reality Turn has more in common with Geoff Murphy's savagely underrated film The Quiet Earth (1985).

Maki (Riho Makise) is an artist, working as a teaching assistant while she tries to get her career off the ground. One afternoon she is riding into town on her bicycle when she's hit by a car. There's a flash of white light, and Maki wakes up... back in her house. Confused, she wanders out into the street. There isn't a soul around. In fact, there isn't anyone, anywhere. Maki is entirely alone.

Things get worse. The following day, at 2:15 p.m. -- the time of the accident -- Maki once again finds herself transported back to her house, one day earlier. No matter where she goes, at 2:15 she wakes up back in her house on exactly the same day. Effectively, she is living the same 24-hour period over and over again.

After four months of this, Maki is starting to adjust to the prospect of spending the rest of her life (however long that may be, in her situation) alone, living the same day, every day. Then her phone rings...

It's hard not be intrigued by this scenario, even though it's an old concept. Thankfully, director Hideyuki Hirayama (the man behind the popular Haunted School series) is able to maintain the level of interest by making sure we aren't bogged down with too many scenes of Maki alone in her empty world. The story continues to develop, and we end up with a genuine empathy for Maki's plight. Riho Makise's performance is good, but perhaps a little limited. Much better are Kazuki Kitamura and Akira Emoto, the two male leads.

All is well until Turn enters its final third. After introducing a plot element that has the necessary tension to propel the film to its climax, the script dispenses with it in a casual deus ex machina fashion. Not only is such a resolution pretty unacceptable, but it also returns our characters to exactly the same position as before. Furthermore, it quickly becomes apparent that the screenwriter wasn't entirely sure how to finish the film. We're left with a conclusion so cloyingly saccharine and desperately nonsensical it belongs in the pulp romance novels bought exclusively by blue-haired old ladies.

Ultimately this is something of a shame because the first two thirds of the film are genuinely interesting and very well-crafted indeed. Had the rest of the film been of the same standard, Turn would have rated a B+ at the very least. Even with a weak ending it would have been a very enjoyable film. Marcus Nispel (Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake) has signed on to direct the remake, which will apparently focus on the horror aspects of the film. For once, I'm in absolute agreement. A remake might well be exactly what Turn needs.

Review published 06.14.2004.

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