Synopsis: Asakawa is a journalist who is intrigued by his niece’s strange death. When he discovers other young people have died suddenly and inexplicably, he begins to seriously investigate. In the course of his investigation, he discovers a videotape that is cursed – if you watch it, you will die within the week. There is a charm against the curse but that part is missing from the tape. Asakawa has a week to discover what it is in order to save not only his own life but that of his wife and child.
I really enjoyed the start of this book. Asakawa’s discovery of the four deaths is compelling and I was keen to read on. He was an interesting character, not a straightforward hero and that was good too. I expected that I would be rating it highly. However, the plot loses momentum in the last third. I think that the investigative process is too drawn out and considering how little time Asakawa has left by this point, is strangely lacking in tension. In the end, the deaths and then the discovery of how to break the curse seemed a little anti-climactic.
It seems ridiculous to claim that the ending was unrealistic. After all, this novel already involves a huge suspension of disbelief with the notion of psychics being able to imprint thoughts onto film or in this case, into wave forms so that images could be seen on a tv. In the end, I think that it all just fell apart for me. I just couldn’t keep believing.
It may be that Suzuki’s novel suffers in comparison to the excellent film 1998 film version. Wisely. the film doesn’t get bogged down in the more intellectual ideas about psychics and wooden conversations that add helpful details but seem unrealistic. But ultimately, I think it is the medium that is the problem. It is just so much more chilling to watch a film about a murderous film then it is to read about it.