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Shock Labyrinth Blu-ray 3D Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4 (2D); MPEG-4/MVC (3D)
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit), Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: NR
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray/Blu-ray 3D + 1 x DVD)
  • Run Time: 89 Mins.
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 8, 2012
  • List Price: $29.98

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
2D HD: [Rating:4/5]

3D Effect: [Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

Director Shimizu Takashi’s (Jun-on: The Grudge, The Grudge, Ju-on The Grudge 2, The Grudge 2) J-Horror film Shock Labyrinth 3D (戦慄迷宮, Senritsu meikyû) was the first HD 3D feature film to be produced in Japan. Unfortunately, it also had the dubious distinction of being released only a few months before James Cameron’s 3D-redefining Avatar took the country by storm and dominated the, then, very few 3D projection screens in theatres. As a result, Shimizu’s Shock Labyrinth only took in about $800 Thousand in Japan compared to Avatar’s nearly $200 Million.

It’s time for a reassessment, however. Shock Labyrinth isn’t exactly a film to turn J-horror on its head, set the world a fire, and make a run for the Academy Awards, but, hell, this is a Shimizu Takashi film we’re taking about here. In Labyrinth, what the director does do well is take his familiar themes of vengeful, long-haired female spirits, shake them up a bit, and use his traditional production values in the 3D realm quite effectively (and, yes, even if you watch in plain ol’ 2D, it still works).

A haunted house story set in Fuji-Q Highland theme park in Fujiyoshida. The theme park, a little research turns up, actually holds the world record for the world’s largest walk-through haunted house, The Labyrinth of Horrors. It is this actual haunted house (aka the haunted hospital) that serves as the visual setting for Shock Labyrinth, and a very good one, I might add.

Four teenagers who were childhood friends, the blind Rin (Maeda Ai), Ken (Yagira Yûya), Motoko (Katsuji Ryo), and Miyu (Erina Mizuno) are reunited years after they all lose touch with each when their childhood friend Yuki (Renbutsu Misako), thought to be dead, suddenly returns. When Yuki has an accident, they rush her to a hospital, but suddenly find themselves trapped in the very house of horrors where accident thought to have claimed Yuki’s life occurred. They soon realize they are being tormented by something supernatural in an act of revenge as they try to make their way through the labyrinthine house of horrors alive.

Video Quality

2D HD: [Rating:4/5]

3D Effect: [Rating:4/5]

As noted in the review above, Shock Labyrinth was the first Japanese film to be shot in full high definition 3D. It used the Sony CineAlta HDC-F950 camera at 1080p/24 resolution. Coming to Blu-ray at 1080p/24 AVC/MPEG-4 (2D) and MPEG-4/MVC (3D), the film benefits greatly in 3D, particularly, from director Shimizu’s penchant for using long takes and wide-angle lenses. As a result of this, the depth of field in the 3D is natural and the effect unobtrusive. There is no tendency towards blurring or confusion brought on by too many quick edits or switches between close-ups and long-shots. Use of gimmicky pop-out effects is limited, but this is a horror film after all, and what would a horror film in 3D be if there weren’t some things popping out of the screen at you? Thankfully, this is limited, but Shimizu does have a tendency to overuse at least one motif and this is one of hands reaching out of the screen at you. From early on as the blind Rin reaches for her doorknob to a few times when Yuki stretches right out of the screen out at you, this effect becomes just a little obnoxious, even if it does cause you to want to reach right back out and grab those hands. By far the best gimmicky use of the 3D effect comes later on in the film when Yuki’s bunny rabbit backpack flies out of the screen right into your face as drops of rainwater slowdown, turning into large bubbles that also have good pop-out. The backpack then recedes back into the screen, turns and unzips where Yuki pops her head out from it. Good stuff. If there is a downside to this 3D encodement, it would be that it loses a slight bit of the textural detail that is evident in the 2D transfer. It also has a little bit more of an issue with ghosting than I have seen from some more recent 3D titles, such as Underworld: Awakening, for example. Of course, that is, by now, known to be a factor of several issues related to source, display, and glasses used.

The 2D image on the disc shows a lot more of the (intentional?) grittiness/video noise in this pure high definition production. Although this isn’t completely bad, at times it is a little distracting, especially in the very dark scenes, a relative thing, I know, given that this film takes place in a haunted house.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Before launching into the review of the audio, I’d like to note that both the packing and the disc menu on this Well Go USA release are mislabeled. While there are indeed both Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) audio mixes, the disc is incorrectly noted to have Japanese and English Dolby 2.0 Stereo mixes. In fact, it contains Japanese and Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to the sound. Using the lossless Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio as reference, I’d say the soundtrack here was good, but it could have been better. While most of the time there was a good balance between the front channels and ambience and atmospherics in the surrounds, there was also a tendency toward jarring use of mixing discrete sounds into the surround channels, like a door opening in the left surround, or sudden footsteps in the right surround. Not that there is anything wrong with the use of discrete effects, when done well, but this just seemed willy-nilly. Lows were deep, highs were warm and natural, and dialogue clean and intelligible.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

The few brief production featurettes (including the interview segments) all show a little bit of behind-the-scenes footage and offer a bit of background information on the film’s production. In particular, the “interview” featurette offers up some good info on the 3D techniques used in filming Shock Labyrinth.

The supplements:

  • Interviews (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:27:06)
  • Behind the Scenes (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:09:54)
  • Press Conference (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:48)
  • Original Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
  • DVD

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

With Shock Labyrinth, Shimizu Takashi takes the haunted house setting and uses it effectively to craft something suspenseful, visually appealing, and just a little bit different. Although the last quarter of the film does tend to fall apart and get just a little convoluted, this one still makes a satisfying weekend viewing or a good one to add to your Halloween horror marathon.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Shock Labyrinth on Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
2D HD: [Rating:4/5]

3D Effect: [Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]


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