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Review: The Complex


‘The Complex’ directed by the legendary Hideo Nakata promised a lot but delivered one of the most boring horror film experiences I have had the misfortune to view this year.

Admittedly I was a little late to the party having picked this up on DVD for a paltry £1.84 this year (original release was 2013), but I didn’t miss the hype train - a number one box office hit, a dedicated prequel episodic TV show, legendary director, I was expecting another J-Horror gem.

I struggled to stay awake throughout.

The plot follows Asuka Ninomiya, a young nurse who moves into a dilapidated apartment complex. She is already tormented from loss in her life and whilst she moves in with her family, there is an air of isolation surrounding her persona. She customary tries to engage her neighbours with welcome gifts, but struggles with one, an old recluse. Periodically she hears scratching and noises coming from his apartment, but never sees him; to add to the mystery she also befriends a young boy whose only guardian is the old recluse.

One day she decides to investigate the flat further and finds the old man dead. The police inform her that he has been dead for days and now she believes the old man is haunting her to punish her for not responding to his hauntings earlier.

In reality, whilst this sounds like a great premise for a horror movie, it simply goes nowhere. There are a few plot twists throughout but they are, for the most part, predictable and cliché. The film sets up some creepy moments, but indulges in character development and back story far too much, offering nothing more than a light dusting of periodic spooky moments. The acting is good, and the characters stand out as strong and memorable, but still, too much drama, not enough chills.

If we look back through Nakata’s esteemed back catalogue we see that his horrors have always worked due to an investment in well-established characters but here their development moves through from interesting to depressive to plain dull. In the second act the story grinds to an old ladies walking pace, and I’m afraid piling more and more backstory reveals meant that the pace (and concurrently my interest) in the overarching plot dwindled.

Overall, I will summarise ‘The Complex’ as: well-made and with depth, but ultimately not for me. If you see it cheap, and are a massive fan of the more dramatic J-horror ghost stories then you might dig it – if that’s the case please let us know in the comments below we would love to discuss. It is odd that a film boasting such credentials should get such a low score, but 2 stars is all this snooze-fest is getting from me.

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