Directors, Features, Filmmakers, Interviews, Japan, Recommended posts

Koji Shiraishi interview: “There was a responsibility but I did enjoy creating the film!”

We talk to the director of Grotesque about uniting two J-horror franchises with Sadako vs Kayako

Kōji Shiraishi was born and raised in Fukuoka, Japan. After graduating from Kyushu Sangyo University with a degree in film making, he started working as an assistant director on such films as Gakuryū Ishii’s August in the Water and Shinobu Yaguchi’s Waterboys.

His first work as head director was on Ju-Rei: The Uncanny, in 2004. He then proceeded on directing two of the most iconic productions of J-horror, a genre thriving at the time, namely Noroi and A Slit-Mouthed Woman. He became infamous in the UK in 2009, when his splatter film Grotesque became only the second movie in four years (joining Murder-Set-Pieces in 2008) to be made illegal to sell or supply anywhere in the region, and he stated that he was actually happy his movie caused such controversy.

He is one of the few filmmakers still dedicated to J-horror, although his style has somewhat changed, since films as Cult, Shirome and Occult belong to the “found footage” subcategory.

His latest film is Sadako vs Kayako, a film that Kadokawa Daiei hopes will resurrect both the iconic franchises and the genre.

Hi Koji, In terms of what we call J-Horror here, why do you think the category  became so popular  in 90’s?
At the end of the 1990’s, the popularity of exploring ghosts in the form of women was taken to the next level with the creation of the Ring films, which helped create a J Horror boom. From this moment onwards, J Horror became a key genre especially when the powerful Grudge series was created.

In 2004 and 2005, you shot two of the most iconic entries in the J-horror genre, Ju Rei: The Uncanny and Noroi: The Curse. What has changed since then, in the way a J-horror is made?
J-Horror is on the decline, in commercial terms. If people who challenge horror with new expression continue to do so and the commercial success does not continue, further decline is likely to  occur for the genre.

Did you feel pressure having to deal with a crossover of the two largest J-horror franchises? How much creative freedom did you have in making the movie – Sadako vs Kayako?
I did feel there was responsibility but I did enjoy creating the film without pressure. I would say I had about 60% freedom in terms of creativity!

In 2009, you shot Grotesque, one of the most famous and (infamous) splatter films of all times. Do you think there is room in films like Sadako vs Kayako and J-horror in general, for more splatter elements?
Whether the splatter element is necessary or not depends on each individual piece of work. In Grotesque, the splatter element was necessary, which is why it was included and for this film I did not feel it was a requirement.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film is that it entails elements of parody, particularly through Morishige’s character. Why did you choose to use parody in the film?
There actually is no direct intention of including parody within the film, but I do appreciate that there are some comedic elements.

Keizo and Tamao bring some anime elements to the film. How did you come up with that?
The characters are common in my work because I liked that their attitude was bad but also there is some charm there.

The final battle is the film’s most impressive sequence. Can you tell us a bit, about how you shot it?
Both the actors practiced before as well as on camera. I wanted to include a lot more fight sequences, but because I had no budget, the battle scenes had to be cut down significantly.

Which one – Sadako or Kayako – were you rooting for?
I support them both equally!

Will there be any sequels?
I’m not too sure but that is probably a question better answered by my producer!

Sadako vs. Kayako comes to horror streaming service Shudder on 26th January.

About the author

Panos KotzathanasisPanos Kotzathanasis Panos Kotzathanasis
Panos has been a fan of of Chinese kung fu and Japanese samurai movies since childhood, cultivating his love during his adolescence to extend to the whole of SE Asia. Currently he writes for a number of sites regarding Asian cinema and also does some content writing. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter. More »
Read all posts by Panos Kotzathanasis

On this day Three years ago

Shanghai Fortress

The next big Chinese sci-fi blockbuster after The Wandering Earth misses the target in pretty much every aspect... (more…) Read on

On this day Five years ago

Eureka Entertainment Announces UK Releases for Four Asian...

Sion Sono’s Tag will be out in Blu-ray and DVD edition on November 20… (more…) Read on

On this day 10 years ago

Win Lady Snowblood on Limited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook!

We have three copies to give away of these beautifully restored, 70s samurai classics, Lady Snowblood and Lady Snowblood 2:  Love Song of Vengeance as a glorious Limited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook... (more…) Read on

One thought on “Koji Shiraishi interview: “There was a responsibility but I did enjoy creating the film!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.