Ono Fuyumi Dialogue Part 3: How to Make Horror Scary

At last, the final part of the “The Inerasable” Opening Commemoration Dialogue with Ono Fuyumi and Nakamura Yoshihiro from the Daily Shincho. The two discuss the scary techniques used in the movie. Although the article doesn’t reveal big plot points, be warned for some light spoilers if you plan on watching the movie one day.

The three mysteries which occurred on the film set

The Inerasable
The Inerasable

This time our creators talk about techniques to make people scared. And, what does the director attempt to aim at in “The Inerasable”? Also, what of the bizarre phenomena which occurred on set…?

Nakamura: I’ve researched quite a lot on how a creator presents the sense of discomfort when someone is confronted with “an unworldly being”. Whether to make it transparent, or shoot it two-dimensionally as it is. When I was making the “Cursed Films” series, it wasn’t possible to do elaborate compositions yet. That’s why I used a projector. I tested out various things, but nothing could surpass the projector. For example, I am projecting a hitogata1)An image or figure shaped like a human being. on the ceiling and before the wall. However, there’s a difference in level on the boundary, so you can obviously see it’s a projector (lol). But the horror lover will think, “That was scary”. Even if I fail at operating the projector, they’ll say: “What’s with that movement! That jerky movement is scary”. This might be a feeling characteristic of J-Horror.

Ono: The camera work is also important, huh.

Nakamura: If a ghost is on screen the whole time, the viewer won’t find it scary and will no longer care. In this type of direction I show the ghost for only a moment and don’t shake the camera after that. But, aiming for that kind of camera work feels unnatural sometimes.

It shows up for a moment.

The Inerasable
Kubo played by Hashimoto Ai

Ono: In your case it’s inevitable to move the camera. But when I see crudely made ghost videos of recent years, I also feel like poking fun at it: ‘Why did you suddenly move the camera? Why did you put it back all of sudden?’

Nakamura: Because this “It shows up for a moment” camera work was created along the genre called ghost documentaries.

Ono: It wasn’t done by you, but in the “Cursed Films” series there’s a scene in which a woman, who died in an accident, passed through two men. The woman’s appearance wasn’t usual, but the men behaved as if they didn’t notice that something was present in that place at all. The scene expressed this unworldly being splendidly with only that much. I felt that the “Cursed Films” series was actually a place for experiments of various horror expressions. Ghost videos also have fads which die out. Until while ago, it was mainstream to have a setting in which the photographer doesn’t notice despite shooting something. But nowadays the pattern of noticing is prevailing.

Nakamura: In the pattern of noticing, the difficulty of acting out the moment they notice is high.

Ono: What’s great about your direction is that it doesn’t seem like the people who testify are acting. I think it was in the film called “Father”. The actress playing the mother of the protagonist was incredibly natural. When I hear her talk, I can only think it actually happened.

Nakamura: Ah, that was my mother (lol). About most of the staff’s family members and acquaintances have acted. All of them are amateurs, but tend to be good at acting – the teacher was the best at acting. He’d know right away when his acting was no good, so we’d dub the video after that. He was good, but whenever we’d almost get there he’d ask the same questions over and over again. “According to the story the face shows up on the wall, but which wall is it?” “Ah, I see. Well, which wall is it?” he’d repeat over and over again, it got annoying so the excitement of the drama got lost.

The second and third day were incredibly scary.

Ono: In “The Inerasable” too, the acting of the neighborhood chairman was really natural.

Nakamura: It was hard because there weren’t many lines (lol). More difficult than the acting this time was how to make the ghost appear.

Ono: Basically because it doesn’t appear, right (lol).

Nakamura: But, in the critical scene it appears for a glimpse in a “dream composition” which I didn’t do in the “Cursed Films”.

Ono: It was really scary when you realize it’s there nonchalantly in the backdrop. But, from the creator’s side, you need bravery. It doesn’t have any meaning if it isn’t noticed. You want to show it, but it doesn’t have any meaning if you show it properly.

Nakamura: Going to a movie is different from the DVD, because you can’t replay it there. This time I talked to the producer. No one is probably watching it on their own. If several people go watch it, it would be good if there’s probably about one person among those who notices it. By doing it like that, the people who didn’t notice will probably go to see the movie again (lol).

Ono: Then, it’s the same behavior as the people who go to haunted locations. It’s the same as going with several people, and one of them says “there was a strange person there just now, right?” and the others answer with: “Huh, we didn’t see anything!”. The one who saw something and the one who didn’t share the same fear.

The Inerasable
The room of university student Kubo.

Nakamura: It’s reasonably obvious that the last five minutes of the film felt like a dare to make a “promise” of horror. No matter how many scary scenes there were by using flashbacks, before that it wasn’t the fright of the present developments. At the end, at point where the story turns back to the “present”, I made up my mind on the things I didn’t do for 100 minutes (lol). Nevertheless, the “second and third day were incredibly scary” was the average impression of the people who saw “The Inerasable”. Beyond the fourth day it seems all right, so I’d like people to watch it with peace of mind (lol).

The “three mysteries” on the film set.

Ono: Have strange things happened on the film set?

Nakamura: Rather than on the film set, they came to light after we wrapped up. For example, in a scene inside the taxi, someone’s hand showed up all of sudden. Also, when we were editing in the studio, several of our staff members heard a woman whispering in the air. We laughed, ‘Didn’t this data come from a different movie?’, but it wouldn’t be possible from the speaker’s location.

The third one was in the scene where “I” played by Takeuchi Yuuko-san and “Kubo-san” played by Hashimoto Ai-san were talking in the cafe. In Takeuchi-san’s background a person stood motionlessly, looking straight at the camera. If there was such a suspicious character at the time of filming, there’s no way that the cameraman or me, who was looking at the monitor, wouldn’t have noticed. The extras were passing through in the background, so if they were standing still the assistant director should have warned them.

Please come to the theater to check out these strange matters.

The Inerasable
The original novel Zange Sunde wa ikenai Heya is the winner of the 26th Yamamoto Shugoro Literary Prize.

I hope you enjoyed the insights we’ve had so far. Finding Ono’s other interviews is a tricky task, but I’ll translate them if I find more! In the meanwhile, please consider reading my post on the “lost” announced Ghost Hunt live action movie too if you haven’t already.

Thanks for reading!

“The Inerasable” Opening Commemoration Dialogue

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Notes   [ + ]

1. An image or figure shaped like a human being.

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