Digi-Schlock: GUROZUKA (Synapse DVD)

It’s been a while since Synapse has released something under their Asian Cult Cinema banner.  Luckily for fans of this banner, the beginning of 2012 has seen a new release in the form of Gurozuka, a female-centric tale of ghosts and serial murder from Japan.  The finished product is likely to please them, offering a typically professional transfer and a worthwhile pair of extras as well.

Gurozuka is given an anamorphic widescreen presentation on this disc.  It is a shot-on-video production so it might not have the visual “wow” factor that Synapse often gets with celluloid-based productions but this transfer suits the film’s rough-and-ready video style just fine.  The details are consistently clear and the muted color scheme of the woodsy settings comes through nicely.  The audio portion of the transfer uses a 2.0 stereo mix: as such, it doesn’t have a lot in the way of radical stereo effects but the mix is crisp with an effective use of music.  It’s also worth noting that the film is presented in Japanese, with English subtitles that are nice and clear.

The extras are limited to two items but both are worthwhile.  The first is a Japanese trailer that plays up the film’s Ringu-esque elements.  Japanese subs are thankfully included with it.  The second is a making-of featurette that runs about 23 minutes.  Some parts have the expected EPK puffery but the rest is pretty interesting stuff: the actresses reveal how grueling the shoot could be in terms of cold and there are also amusing montages of crew members stealing naps on set and the camera-shy director jumping out of the documentary cameraman’s way.  It’s a nice little fly-on-the-wall document that will interest anyone intrigued by the film.

All in all, Synapse’s disc of Gurozuka offers a worthwhile transfer backed up with a surprisingly compelling on-the-set featurette.  If you’re a J-horror fan, it is worthy of  your consideration.

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