Hallow-vent - Day 18: The Garden of Sinners: Overlooking View

We love Halloween here at The DreamCage and we love the countdown to it even more as, every day in October, David Ames opens a window (well, writes an article) in his Hallow-vent Calendar of Asian horror films. His choice for Day 18 of Hallow-vent is The Garden of Sinners: Overlooking View ...

Find the full calendar for Hallow-vent 2020 here.

It’s that time of year again: the birds are chirping, the leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air, and there’s a pandemic raging. All of these elements come together to make a fantastic holiday season, full of candy, and popcorn, and gory, bloody, creepy films that cause existential crises and fits of catatonia. 

This year I am looking at a subgenre of horror that, although it is centralized to a continent, is very diverse in subject matter and approach: Asian horror. I LOVE Asian horror. It may be that the original Ringu played an important part in my young life, causing me to be both fascinated and horrified by this type of horror. 

While I was used to American horror movies, particularly slasher franchises like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th, I was not prepared for the sheer amount of difference between American and Asian approaches to horror. While most of what I had seen of American horror dealt with blood, gore, murder, and a substantial amount of nudity and sexual content (my 12-14-year-old self was always appreciative), Asian horror was much more subtle and disturbing. 

Maybe it was the newness and disconnection of the culture. Maybe it was the language barrier. Maybe it was the seeming focus on folklore that wasn’t present in the west’s presentation (at least from my limited experience), but from the moment I saw Ringu, I was hooked. 

This year I wanted to approach Asian horror that was not as famous as those I had seen previously and so I chose movies that I had never seen, or even heard of for the most part. There is only one film on the list that I was familiar with beforehand, and I hadn’t watched that since high school. 

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the strange mix of subtlety, disturbing imagery, and slow-burn that is this year’s Hallow-vent calendar.

When researching good animated horror, I came across quite a few films from Asia that I have already greatly enjoyed. Films like Blood: The Last Vampire, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, and Memories come to mind here, but then I saw an entry that I had never heard of before, and on inspection, I learned that it’s actually a series of hour long episodes. When I finally found a place to watch the series, I was excited, as it is hard to find decent Anime streaming in the states unless you want to pay quite a bit. I sat down to watch the first instalment, and I was pretty impressed. Today, we look at the first episode (film?) of this series, 2007’s Garden of Sinners: Overlooking View.

Set in 1998, Overlooking View introduces us to Shiki Ryogi, a closed off detective who works for an agency specializing in paranormal cases. When a series of strange suicides by a number of local high school girls strikes the city, Shiki and her team, made up of detectives Mikiyaki and Toko as well, begin to look into the occurrences.

Shiki goes to the strange apartment complex at the center of the suicides to discover the secret, and after seeing first hand another suicide, witnesses five spirits floating above the building. When she investigates, she comes face-to-face with the demonic entity that is inhabiting the girls and causing their deaths. She must then use all the powers at her disposal to deal with this menace before more deaths can occur.

This film is so much fun to watch. The voice acting is perfect, not over the top like some better known series, and the art…oh the art; it is spellbinding. The show blends 2D and 3D animation seamlessly, and the colors and pencil work are spectacular. The look of the film overall made me instantly want to watch the rest of the series.

Overall, the story is convoluted and at times hard to follow, but honestly that doesn’t really seem to matter. What this film does so well is establish a mood that permeates every scene and perfectly sets the stage for the content. This show is so much about watching for the story as it is about experiencing this film as a piece of art.

This one is something that anyone who is a fan of good art and music should see, purely for the experience and the scenic representations that capture foreboding and tension perfectly. I can’t wait to watch the next in the series.

Follow David on Twitter @TheDavidMAmes

Image - IMDb
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