Shimizu takes format to new level

When Japanese helmer Takashi Shimuzu presents horror-thriller “Tormented,” a 3D fantasy puzzle, out-of-competition today, one of the most frequently asked questions may well be: What really happens?

At the beginning of the Fortissimo-sold film, a young boy peers down at a dying rabbit in a hole in his playground, then smashes a stone on its face.

Or so it seems.

His doting teen sister, Kiriko, who has lost the power of speech, then tries to rescue the boy from a bounding, bullying man-sized rabbit, who drags him off to a sinister fairground.

Well, that’s one explanation.

Shimizu occupies a unique position in J-horror. At helmer Sam Raimi’s request, he remade his “Ju-on” as 2004’s “The Grudge,” which topped U.S. charts for two weeks.

His 2009 movie, “The Shock Labyrinth: Extreme,” was a pioneering 3D film for Japan. Shimizu also headed the jury of the Venice Film Festival’s 2010 Persol 3D award.

Yet, despite his U.S. triumph he sets himself apart from most mainstream U.S. and 3D filmmaking.

The helmer said he wanted to make an ending where many interpretations were possible.

“What I want to express is: what people perceive and the time and space that govern those perceptions might not be just one.

“But generally speaking people — especially in North America — tend to ask for definite answers.”

Shimizu admitted he “clashed a lot” with cinematographer Chris Doyle. But he recognized that “if any one understood our intentions — or more to the point, felt them — it was probably Chris, the Troublesome but Refined Old Bastard.”

Doyle no doubt contributed much to “Tormented’s” sustained fantasy as Shimuzu attempted, in his own words, to capture “the imagery of the horrifying aspects of the human mind” and take 3D to the next level.

“3D has multi-dimensional possibilities and values” that generally haven’t been explored, he said. “That’s why I made two 3Ds in a row, despite their rather low-budgets,” Shimizu said.

“My next film is going to be a horror movie as well. It probably won’t be 3D, but be assured it will have a different edge to compensate for that.”

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