Sealed (2013) – By Josh Samford

As a fan of world cinema, one thing that I wish we saw more of here at Rogue Cinema would be films from Asia. However, if we aren’t going to receive more contributions from the big three (Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea), then maybe we can at least see more films that are heavily influenced by this market? Sealed is certainly a movie that fits into this mold. Made by Midas Touch Films, a group located in New York City, the film presents itself as a Japanese horror movie with influences that touch upon multiple genres other than just J-Horror. With such a smorgasbord of ideas at play, how does the movie ultimately stack up?

The story with Sealed is brief and familiar. We follow two young girls, Miko and Halo, whose mother has recently passed away. The duo receive a package containing all of her material possessions, and amongst these things is a sealed box that appears to have never been opened. Halo, of course, opens the box, and inside of it she finds a fairly creepy little doll. Unknown to these girls, this doll contains their families darkest secrets.

Right out of the gates, it seems that Sealed is looking to make a mark as something unique. Featuring an animated introduction, the film begins as if it were a motion comic before taking the audience into modern times. There is a very dark tone implied early with these visuals, and although the film is obviously very Japanese-centric, it also comes across as having a slightly European tone. Similar to many of the darker fairy tales out there, the short is often wondrous while still remaining ominous.

Although the movie has familiar points to it, certainly within the fundamentals of the story, it is still far away from being anything remotely traditional. Told through the exposition of a faceless narrator, the movie is nearly silent outside of the dialogue that is recited by this unseen person who speaks Japanese with an accent that sounds rather ghostly. Combining this with all of the radical imagery within the film, I could not help but make a comparison between this short and Jan Švankmajer’s stop-motion-filled "Alice". Most of the lighting in the film is done with bizarre and unnatural colors, including a large number of pinks and purples. Although the movie does do well in bringing to life its horror-manga aesthetics, it also seems very European in its palette and visual cues.

Sealed is a very short and demented venture into Asian horror aesthetics. It is a visually dominating short that shows great promise from this talented group of individuals. If it screens near you or you have the chance to search it out, I can’t help but recommend it. Read more about their projects via the official Midas Touch Films YouTube and Facebook pages.