A more-of-same J-Horror

by Nav Qateel

Based on Haruka Hojo’s novel of the same name, Bilocation tells the story of Shinobu Takamura, an amature artist who’s trying to turn pro. One day, she finds herself accused of passing counterfeit money but the cop who arrives to take her away isn’t what he seems. Instead of arresting Shinobu, Detective Takashi Kano takes her to meet with a small group of people who share her problem. They each have doppelganger entities known as “bilocations” who are actually exact copies of themselves, and these replicas try to insinuate themselves into the real person’s life. Bilocations appear and dissolve into black smoke without warning but always near their original. When Shinobu’s bilocation passes money at the same store Shinobu later uses, and thinking Shinobu’s returned, the suspicious clerk notices the serial numbers on the banknotes are identical and calls the cops. Thanks to this, Shinobu learns about the existence of bilocations and the mysterious group.

One would expect a great deal more from such a tantalizing premise, but the resulting narrative eventually falls back on hackneyed, more-of-same J-Horror, rather than deliver the promised psychological thrills. Bilocation succeeds more in confusing the audience than anything else, but even with its substantial plot holes and silly science, we’re provided with enough entertainment to keep us mostly satisfied.

Directed by
Mari Asato
Asami Mizukawa, Kento Senga, Sho Takada, Kenichi Takito
DVD Release Date
17 July 2014
Nav’s Grade: C

The characters who make up the self-help bilocation group are an eclectic and interesting bunch from all walks of life, but something stressful in their past has allowed their other self to come into being. Group newcomer Shinobu is worrying over an art competition she plans to enter, and she sees it as her last chance to show the world she has what it takes to make it as an artist. This is the catalyst that allows her bilocation to be created. Out of all the bilocations attached to the group, the most troublesome is Detective Kano’s (Kenichi Takito). His bilocation came about thanks to Kano being under constant pressure from an abusive superior, and now his alter ego is always very angry and violent towards the others in the group.

To aid with popularity, Bilocation boasts two J-pop stars, Kento Senga and Sho Takada, whose inclusion will only help sell the film to adoring girls, but beyond that, add little of significance. In the lead role playing a double character is the beautiful Asami Mizukawa. The experienced actress managed to perform the dual role with practiced ease, which is just as well because Mizukawa is signed on to recreate her character–along with the other survivors–in the follow-up, Bilocation Ura which is due out later this year.

A mystery surrounds group leader Makoto Iitsukaā€ˇ (Kosuke Toyohara), and while he appears to be trying to keep Shinobu safe, he stands idly by as the others die off in various gruesome ways. When all motives are finally revealed, rather than feel a sense of closure or understanding, we’re only left with more questions. Not everything finally makes sense and even taking into account the ambiguous nature of some Japanese horror, a lot is left unanswered. The obvious questions are, why is it only this small group? How did they find each other in the first place? Why doesn’t the world know about their existence when the bilocations appear in front of others? And, of course, why aren’t the police involved? That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Bilocation is very well made with good cinematography and production values. The CGI is perhaps typical but still competently handled and the cast do a great job with their characters. Director Mari Asato is certainly making a name for herself having studied under director Kiyoshi Kurosawa and The Ring writer Hiroshi Takahashi. There are too few Japanese women directing movies but Asato is holding her own in a male dominated business. I just hope the writing is improved when Asato helms the follow-up.