As someone who has been watching foreign horror since I was a teenager I have come to see and appreciate the trends that each region has. With Asian horror you get many tales of revenge and emotion come to boil after death as well as the idea of extremes. It was strange that Asian horror took so long to get to imported to the States because it was so different than what we were doing here and was so intense and scary. I still remember watching the first two made for television Ju-On films with a friend and how utterly freaky they were. The problem though is that much like our films have done, their films have fallen into some of the same ruts and Warning Do Not Play is a prime example of that.
Warning Do Not Play is the story of young filmmaker who is trying to come up with her next idea after having set the festival circuit on fire with her first short film. Desperate to make a deadline and unable to come up with an idea that grips her the young woman begins asking around for any stories that might scare even her. In her search she hears about a film that had screened years earlier that the student filmmaker that made it insisted, after a screening that horrified patrons, that the film was made by a ghost. Curious, the woman begins to dig deeper and deeper into the mystery of this movie, even against the wishes of the ‘director’ himself, but some secrets won’t stay buried and some horror won’t remain unseen.
What starts out as a novel idea and a fun film sadly descends into a confusing mess at the climax. Much of the film is about the search for this mystery film, and as such it plays well and allows the actress to really showcase her acting, as she obsessively digs deeper and deeper than even she starts to think she should. There is even a feel that reminded me a bit of Audition where things started to get unhinged from the reality the film had been presenting. It’s a well-made film, with decent acting and direction but the film just comes apart at the end. The film takes a surreal turn and plays with time and reality in a way that it doesn’t really earn. And like too many of these sorts of films there is a big set up for why there is a haunting and why horrible things happened but there’s no why behindthe why. They show you some things and hint at others but there are leaps in logic as well as reason. What had begun as an effective and chilling story just crumbles without connective tissue. You also have a film that fell into the bad habit of the same sort of ghost we’ve seen in Asian horror for nearly twenty years – a woman with long, black hair that hangs in her face and creeps around with only glimpses of her with a focus on her eyes We’ve seen it so much that it’s infected American horror as well.
There is a really fun and clever idea here and it’s definitely a watchable film but it was a huge disappointment that so much potential fell apart like so many other similar movies.
2 out of 5
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