The Booth (aka Bûsu)
Directed and Written by: Yoshihiro Nakamura (Dark Water (screenplay))
Starring: Ryuta Sato
Unrated: 13+, 73 min., 2005
The movie opens on a old call in radio show, the film is desaturated and scratchy. The only thing with any color is an old green phone, that the host is using to talk to a caller. The DJ, a man in his 50s, is talking to a woman about her boyfriend. The caller and the boyfriend want to get married, but his family is against it. She says they plan to commit suicide together. The DJ says they should elope if they feel that strongly and the caller says it's too late, she already did, 30 years ago. The DJ laughs nervously and plays along with the woman until she says she tells the DJ that he betrayed her. The next thing we see is the DJ, hanging from the ceiling in the booth #6. Cut to present day and Shogo, the popular host of a call-in show (think Loveline without the helpful medical information), stuck in the out-of-date booth #6 while their studio remodels. The show goes along with a few technical difficulties, as it seems that someone is cutting into the station's calls, saying Shogo is a liar. Soon, Shogo starts to realize all of the calls mirror bad things that he has done in his life.
With it's short length, The Booth comes off like a "Masters of Horror" episode. Thankfully without the undead clowns, animal torture or George Washington: baby eater. Most of the story takes place at the station, with Shogo's flashbacks the only thing taking us outside. The "is she dead or isn't she" of Shogo's ex girlfriend plays on for too long, most likely to up the run time. The film is slow in that typical Japanese way, not to say it isn't interesting, but it's more of a character study of karma's payback to an arrogant radio host, than a real horror film. There are a few radio jockeys I think karma should bitch-slap (Howard Stern, I'm looking at you), so it was kind of a vicarious fun. Visually the movie isn't interesting. Inside the studio it is mostly brown, with the flashbacks in a washed out blue. By the way it was filmed, it makes me wonder whether it was originally made for television, then released theatrically instead.
Entertainment value: 5/10
Blood: a splat and a small puddle, nothing to write home about.
Creepy Callers: 3
30 Second Summery: Karma baby, it all comes back on you.
Similar Films: Seance (Kôrei), Repulsion, The Machinist