Everyday aesthetics in contemporary Japanese ghost films


Varpu Rantala

By the turn of the millennium, ghost films with a depressive atmosphere were made in East Asia. This article discusses scenes from the Japanese films Dark Water (Honogurai mizu no soko kara, 2002) by Hideo Nakata and Cure (Kyua, 1997) and Kaïro (Pulse, 2001) by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, to show their subtle style of building up atmospheres.

To do this I utilize the discussions over the conception of unheimlich to call into question familiarity and homeliness in normality. These discussions also move from the western metaphysics of united identity and fear of ”the monstrous other”.

I am particularly interested in how the spectral atmospheres are created within everyday spaces, using everyday images and sounds and no spectacular special effects. Instead of the most studied themes in horror studies, such as monstrous flesh, abnormity and spectacle, these films utilize aesthetics of invisibility and scarcity which could be called audiovisual minimalism.