“Toshimaen” is a Japanese horror-thriller film, also known as "Eiga: Toshimaen", directed by Hiroshi Takahashi, starring actors Rie Kitahara, Kojima Fujiko, Nana Asakawa, and Ruka Matsuda, based on a real-life urban legend. The story is about a college student, Hayashi, who returns to the amusement park "Toshimaen" with her high school friends and unexpectedly, they heard the rumored secret curse on the Internet. Driven by curiosity, they came to an ancient western-style building and knocked on the door. Unexpectedly, this behavior led to a series of terrorist phenomena. Not only did their friends disappear one after another, but Hayashi gradually found the terrible truth hidden behind paradise in the process.
No one is innocent of school bullying
In the real world, people have always heard about the strange stories and urban legends of the countryside are the favorite subjects of many films and television productions, whether it is the Mexican ghost story "The Curse of La Llorona", the "The Devil Fish" that took place in Taiwan's Langtang Reservoir, the "The Bridge Curse" on the campus of Donghai University, or the "Memory House" in Japan that can make people forget their pain, or the mysterious village across the tunnel "Howling Village". Inuyasha Village", all use the unexplainable stories around our lives to give the film a rather unique mystery, and this time about the old Tokyo amusement park "Toshimaen" is certainly no exception.
How is "Toshimaen" rated?
“Toshimaen” is based on a horror urban legend that has been widely circulated on the Internet, and focuses on a group of high school girlfriends in college who, after receiving an amusement park admission ticket from their long-lost classmate's mother, had hoped to come to "Toshimaen" to relive the good old days, but never expected to experience something they had never imagined after closing. The film's elements of "amusement park", "horror legend" and "high school girl" are cleverly used to show the potential of the subject matter in the film's low-budget, small-format story. In the limited story of low budget and small format, it shows the potential of the subject matter itself, which really deserves our praise.
Although the entire film "Toshimaen" depicts events that cannot be confirmed, the urban legend that exists in the paradise as the beginning extends outward to the many adventures that people who do not believe in evil come to this place, whether it is the webcast at the beginning of the film that hopes to dispel the rumors, or the five female high school students such as Hayashi, the main storyline, through the cameras and cell phones in the hands of the characters, just like " The Bridge Curse", "Howling Village", "Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum". Many of the shots in the film are shot from a first-person perspective, creating a strong sense of immediacy for the audience against the real backdrop of the film, all of which make this horror film quite fascinating.
The horror theme of "Toshimaen”
Interestingly, "Toshimaen" cleverly uses the eerie atmosphere of an empty amusement park at night, the haunted house with scary mechanisms everywhere, and the mirror house with countless mirrors to create visual confusion and oppression for visitors, and even make people disoriented, in the atmosphere of the film does not know when the ghosts will come out to scare people, to bring a novel scare effect to the whole film, with the appearance of these beautiful actresses who were scared out of color and suddenly became panic and anxiety. Although "Toshimaen" is relatively short and the overall level of scares is relatively weak compared to other ghost movies, it still manages to bring the audience a barely satisfying experience with the addition of other aspects.
I like the plot design of "Toshimaen" that allows the characters to gradually uncover the truth about the disappearance of their high school classmate during their visit to the amusement park. Through this horrific experience, each of them is reminded of their past wounds that they don't want to mention and bring out their psychological conflicts with each other, and after the truth is fully revealed, through the complicated and false relationships between the girls, just like the Indonesian ghost film "Death Whisper", the horror story "Toshimaen", which is based on an urban legend, has a sad past. In turn, it is a gory critique of the deliberate coldness of the small circle on campus, and even the bullying and coercion among classmates.
The core of the plot of "Toshimaen”
Perhaps because the amusement park "Toshimaen" would still be in operation if it had not been affected by the epidemic, "Toshimaen" does not delve into the root cause of the curse, but chooses to shift the focus to the feud between the characters themselves at the end. Although it's a pity for a horror film, from a different perspective, the film goes from the legend that the three taboos will be violated to the revenge of the unjust death of the schoolgirls, turning the horror story into a cautionary reminder for the audience to learn from the past and tell us to treat people with kindness, perhaps bringing a core that we should think about.