J-horror is where it all began

Throughout the duration of my research and analysis of Asian horror, the literature always turns back to inspirations and influences from Japan. Japan’s characterisation of horror is mainly engrained in the tales and history disconnected from the contemporary culture we see now. Therefore it’s understandable the market for horror cinema in Asia turns to Japan for its inspirations in creating an ideal performance for the genre.

What I love most about Asian horror is the representation of females. Too often is there a portrayal of females as the damsel in distress, holding no authority in the scene or a domination of the script. Within the genre that sees a perspective rarely tailored to the villains but rather providing more substance to the victims and their survival, its refreshing to see a flip of roles within J-horror.

Japan’s implementation of traditional narratives within a contemporary film setting, enhances the fear attached to these old tales of vengeful spirits. The common narrative we see in such horror is the “innocent women who are victimised and brutally murdered by men” (Valerie, W, p.30). I find it interesting to see a representation of a severe social issue such as domestic violence in the genre of horror due to the silence it endures in other contexts. The topic is implemented into the art of performance and translating the grotesque effects into a film that does not censor the realities of the issue.

Japanese horror cinema seems to be the inspirations for other asian films especially in Thailand and Hong Kong with obvious extensions to the Western world. Adaptations of J-horror into American films can be an effective tool to communicate an ancient culture’s tales by means more understandable to audiences disconnected to the Asian continent. Whether it is effectively accomplished is in consumer’s interests which I find to be a polarising aspect to the discussion.


Wee, V 2014, “Japanese horror films and their american remakes: translating fear, adapting culture”, in Routledge Advances in Film Studies, Volume 27.

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