Shock Labyrinth 3D (2009) – By Duane L. Martin

Ten years ago, five kids went into a house of horrors at an amusement park. The building was closed at the time, but they found a side door that was unlocked and went inside. While they were in there, one little boy named Ken was hiding in a locker and when Yuki came looking for him, he popped out and scared her, knocking her over a railing. She held on and was crying out for him to help her, but he was scared and she fell. As he looked over the rail, he sees a pair of hands reach out and drag her away. Yuki disappeared that night. The police and the parents came and got the rest of them out, but they never found Yuki.

Jump forward ten years. Yuki shows up at a blind girl named Rin’s house, who was one of the kids there that night. She’s cold and shivering, and Rin freaks out. Rin calls Ken and Motoki to come over right away. After Yuki freaks out during a power outage, they call her home and talk to her little sister Miyu. After they talk to her and tell her what’s going on, they take Yuki home. Her mother has gone insane from the grief and doesn’t even understand that Yuki is there, and her sister isn’t even really sure it’s her. They asked Yuki where she’s been all these years, and she says she’s been in the hospital. While they were at her home, her mom leads them upstairs to see Yuki’s room, and they find her bunny backpack sitting on a chair. The mom treats the backpack like it’s Yuki, and when Yuki sees it, she backs away and falls down the stairs. Quickly they take her to the closest hospital, only to find that it’s abandoned, and once inside, it slowly turns into a labyrinth of stairs and corridors, morphing into the house of horrors they were in as kids. Now and then, they hear kids, and even spot them in fleeting glances, eventually finding out that there’s some sort of a time warp thing happening, and that the people they encountered in the house of horrors when they were kids were actually them from the future. Now the future them are fulfilling that cycle. Will anyone be able to change what’s happened and break the cycle, or will it continue endlessly, and what does Yuki really want? Does she just want to be normal again, or does she want something more sinister?

I know this isn’t a very good description of the film, and I apologize for that. This is one of those films where the story is so convoluted that it’s hard to do a decent synopsis for it. If by that you’re inferring that this movie isn’t all that good and is rather confusing at times, then you inferred correctly.

This film’s biggest problem is lack of coherence in the story. I realize it’s supposed to be bizarre and confusing, but it goes overboard with that to the point where it becomes uninteresting. Then they focus on things like the bunny backpack. That’s a key element in the film that keeps showing up here and there, but there seems to be no real purpose behind it. I guess they figured it’d be kinda creepy. Honestly, it wasn’t.

That’s not to say there weren’t any creepy scenes in the film, because there were actually several of them, and some really cool visual effects as well. Unfortunately, throwing in creepy scenes and effects without a decent story to take advantage of them only goes so far. I almost want to compare this film to Donnie Darko in some ways. There are certainly some comparisons to be made. Donnie Darko made a lot more sense though and had a lot more going for it. The director’s cut did anyway. From what I remember, the theatrical version was pretty confusing. In both films though, there’s a cyclical time warp element that the protagonists are trying to work through.

One thing this movie didn’t suffer from was poor acting. The cast all did a wonderful job with the characters, so I don’t want to detract from their efforts here. They just didn’t have a solid story for those characters to work in.

Something else I didn’t particularly care for was the fact that this film was specifically done in 3D. Both the 2D and 3D versions are available on this blu-ray release, plus a DVD copy, just to make that clear, but here’s the thing I hate about movies that are made specifically to be 3D. They fill them up with visual effects that are supposed to look cool in 3D, that really feel out of place with the look of the rest of the film. This film suffered from that as well. CGI rain that was added in, the bunny backpack and a balloon floating around, among other things. It’s really sort of obnoxious when you’re watching a movie in 2D and you see all that. I’m sure it’s cool and all in 3D, but how many people have 3D capable blu-ray players and televisions? I don’t. I have a big screen TV and a normal blu-ray player, and I’m guessing that most people who have blu-ray have pretty much the same setup. A big part of that is the increased cost of going full on 3D, plus the hassles with the glasses, plus a certain percentage of the population can’t process 3D visuals in films, plus…I just happen to like my movies 2D. I saw a 3D movie once and it sucked bad. I actually had to take the glasses off and spend the rest of the film watching the film all tweaked out on the screen because I couldn’t take it anymore. Does it bother me that various films are available in 3D? No, not at all, as long as there are 2D versions available as well. What bothers me is when they add things in needlessly to enhance the 3D visuals that look visually out of place in the 2D version.

This films is from Director Takashi Shimzu, who also directed The Grudge. I understand what kind of a film maker he is, and I appreciate what he was trying to do here, but unfortunately, the script could have used some more work. A great cast and cool visual effects can only go so far to make a film entertaining. The other key component there is a good story, and in that department, this film was just lacking.

As noted above, this release from Well Go USA contains a blu-ray disc with both the 2D and 3D versions of the film, and a separate DVD of the film as well. The visual quality is excellent, as is the sound, and I expected nothing less from Well Go USA. They’re one of the top distributors right now, and they consistently put out quality releases. For bonus features, it has interviews, a behind the scenes featurette and trailers.

Is it worth checking out? I guess so. I can’t say I hated it, because I absolutely didn’t. I just wish the story was more coherent, because this cast could have really done a great job with a better story.

You can find out more about this release by checking out its page on the Well Go USA website here, and you can pick yourself up a copy of this 2D/3D + DVD release from Amazon here.