Japanese horror movies have a legacy to spook and scare in equal measure. When Norio Tsuruta, a Japanese horror master decides to do something different, we get P.O.V (Point of View). The title seems self-explanatory and hints at being a meta-film.
Shot largely using hand held cameras and from the point of view of characters' cameras, the movie is an experiment to create a more involving experience for viewers. The idea is simple - if we see as the characters see, we would feel as if we are there. There is an added immediacy and urgency to the viewing experience.
The movie starts out promisingly. Shida Mirai is hosting Kawaguchi Haruna (who play themselves) in her variety show when they decide to screen video tapes from anonymous viewers.
Things go wrong. They see strange stuff on the screen. Tsuruta quickly displays his mastery at creating bone chilling suspense by delaying his reveal. But as the movie repeatedly shows, what is eventually revealed is often disappointing, even kitsch.
Horror fans will be disappointed by the lacklustre horror elements. Freeze frames with a spectre by the window, torn pinafoes from a supposed suicidal victim, showers that turn on themselves, empty school toilets, more freeze frames of a floating spectre by the swimming pool. Save for the fact that they all come from Haruna's junior high school, there is nothing else that connects them together in a cohesive whole.
The problem does not lie with its cliched visuals but with its poor backstory. We can't help but feel nothing for the two female victims as they enter the haunted school to exorcise their demons (in both senses of the word).
The scenes in the school are plagued with poor control of mise-en-scene that is made worst by the cat and mouse screamfest as the girls try to run away from the chasing ghosts.
Credit must however, be given to the elaborate cinematography and blocking of the actors in the school. Shot mostly in long takes, Tsurata pushes his POV experiment to the extreme.
From the outset, P.O.V appears to be a meeting point between The Blair Witch Project (1999) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007). It attempts to be a meta-filmic horror film, but ends up being none.