STUDIO: Tartan
MSRP: $22.95

RUNNING TIME: 74 Minutes
• "Making-of" featurette
• Q&A w/ director and lead
• Interview w/ filmmakers
• Trailer

The Pitch

meets Tape with ghosts in a radio booth!"

The Humans

Sato, Hijiri Kojima, Mansaku Ikeuchi.

The Nutshell

Shogo, a talk
radio celebrity, gets his show shuffled off into the basement of a prominent
studio while his usual booth undergoes repairs. Studio six, his temporary home,
is rumored to be haunted by the spirit of a DJ who took his own life while on
the air. As the night wears on, Shogo begins to see and hear some strange
phenomena that are far more specific than the usual unfocused anger of ghosts.
He has to wonder if someone has been watching him, exposing his secrets, or if
he really is going crazy.

"No, see, this is no good, because I know you just copy-pasted. Every line reads,
‘All work and no play makes Shogo a dlul boy.’ D-L-U-L."

The Package

bonuses are nothing particulary special, just the sort of stuff that surrounds
a film’s hype, and nothing that seems tailored to the disc. There’s a
behind-the-scenes featurettes, a brief Q&A session with the director and
lead actor, a shallow interview with a couple of the filmmakers that centers on
their hopes and inspirations for the film, and a theatrical trailer.

The audio
and video are worth noting as positive weights. Tartan does a bang-up job with
the DTS tracks on these discs. For The Booth, the white noise of dead
air, and the malevolent chuckles of distant spirits form a textured backdrop
for the bustle of a precision office environment such as you find in radio. The
cinematography is consistently engaging, and presented cleanly and with a
color-saturation that’s just this side of fantasy.

"Missing white girl!"

The Lowdown

It’s not
a good sign when, in a suspense film, the director has to resort to using a
full bladder as the only effective device for ramping up tension. Can Shogo
hold his water? Or will he — oh, shame about the trousers.

especially unfortunate when a plot ripe for drama is shoehorned into the ill-fitting
suspense structure. The Booth starts out with a decent thematic grounding: the
words you speak can do more harm than you intend. The radio station setting
supports the theme nicely, and Shogo’s interaction with callers throughout the
first fifteen minutes continue to circle back onto this interesting territory.
The plot is glued together with competent foreshadowing and this thematic
unity, even if little effort was spent concealing the cracks.

It’s the
horror and suspense elements that kill off the film’s potential, and they
dominate everything beyond about minute twenty. Effective horror enhances drama
by way of symbolic punishments, but The Booth puts schlock over
sophistication and creates a muddle of repetitive half-scares and paranoid rip-offs
of films that handle guilt with much more finesse.

For a
film about how the tiny, careless moments of a day can wreak unintended havoc
on a fellow human, The Booth has an unwarranted focus on the big, the obvious, and
the unsubtle. It’s about a third of an interesting drama waddling around in a
cheap Leatherface mask.

5.5 out of 10