🐮’s review published on Letterboxd:
First, let me begin by saying that I probably like this movie a lot more than I should, but that's probably true of all Takashi Shimizu's work.
This sequel to 2009's Shock Labyrinth follows two siblings, the adult Kiriko and her ten-year-old brother Daigo. Daigo, right at the beginning of the film, bludgeons a rabbit to death, a disturbing image, but one we can almost excuse because the rabbit seems to be sick, in pain. It seems to be a child's misguided attempt at doing the right thing, so it's easy to write off, noting little more than the fact that it's the first apperance of rabbits in this film. However, this ends up being more significant than you might realize at first.
Things begin to get more serious after attending a showing of The Shock Labyrinth in theaters (a point which I will address later in my review). The stuffed rabbit from that film floats out of the screen and into Daigo's hands-- I realize, I've failed to note that both this film and its predecessor were originally released in 3D, which is why such a plot point was possible. Anyway, all hell breaks loose from this point on, and to tell you more might take away from the confusing, heady magic of this wild goose chase (wild rabbit chase?) of a movie, should anyone decide to watch it based on my review.
Being the fan of Takashi Shimizu that I am, I find it really interesting what a self-referential universe he has built between these two films, almost on the level of Tarantino where ego is concerned, if you want to look at it that way. Now, I haven't formally reviewed the Shock Labyrinth yet, or seen it in a while, so I would need to watch it again to be certain, but I remember it being not quite as good as this one. However, this film relies completely on the existence of the previous film, and exists in a universe where not only does this film exist, but the physical location of the Shock Labyrinth, the theme park in which the previous film takes place, also exists, which, to me, begs the question of if that iconic house in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, exists in this universe as well, since it sets up a world in which supernatural horror is simultaneously the stuff of films and the stuff of reality.
This film, despite spending less of its runtime in the Shock Labyrinth, makes better use of it and the time-loop in which it seems to be caught, making for some chilling repeating images, and without feeling gimmicky in the way that I vaguely remember its predecessor being.
It suffers from some trope-y plot points (ah, the old mental illness being used as a scare device), and an extended allegory that nears the point of being stretched thin, but it's a fun watch and has enough going on that you can find food for thought in it if you want. Not to mention, cinematography by Christopher Doyle, so even if you hate the plot, you might still find it visually compelling.
I have a lot more Thoughts about this movie, but I have to get up and ready for work, so you may find me remembering more things I wanted to talk about and spewing them in the comments.