Re/member (2023) on Netflix is for sure campy. It certainly does not boast the best special effects or CGI. Its creature/monster at first looks like the girl from Ju-on The Grudge and then later, like the thing from John Carpenter’s The Thing. Even the blood of the monster is like the green gooey stuff we saw come out of monsters in an ‘80s horror film. But one thing is for sure; Re/member surprises pleasantly with its conceptual and observant coming-of-age story from the place you least expect it to come. The exploration has many pitfalls, but the cinematic quality is not one of them. Re/member certainly shows the weirdest way to make friends!
Asuka Morisaki is a shy high school student who keeps her distance from her peers. She does not really have any friends. But she has a past connection to Takahiro Ise, the school heartthrob that no one else knows about. It is seemingly a normal day: 5 July, Tuesday. While coming to school, Asuka sees a cat killed under the tires of a truck. Quite strangely, she sees a lot of bodies during lunchtime. And come night, she finds herself back in the school’s chapel along with five other students. And a coffin lays open on the stage.
A small girl with no eyes, covered in blood and carrying a doll, viciously chases them. She kills them all. But the next day, Asuka discovers that all of them are alive. Strangely, the day indicates that it’s still 5 July. Asuka, Takahiro, Atsushi, Rumiko, Rie, and Shota must follow the instructions on Shota’s phone to a game called Body Search, which they have unwittingly become a part of. Re/member completes the life cycle of the time loop trope now that it has produced a coming-of-age film as well.
Romance (Groundhog Day, About Time), mystery and murder (Triangle, Happy Death Day), and science fiction (Source Code, Looper, Coherence) are audience favorites. They are also expected to flourish in that setup, owing to the nature of those genres. But the drama genre is a difficult one to nail, especially when adolescent emotions are involved. Teens are volatile, erratic, and completely irrational at times. So are their projections of themselves and perceptions of other people. Showing how a diverse group of them become friends is nearly impossible in normal circumstances. But director Eiichiro Hasumi finds a clever way to bypass those impossibilities.
He puts them together against the evil force and sets them on a path where they must participate collectively. It is like a genuine school project but without boredom and the objective of outshining the other. Within that story arc, he creates fully realized portraits of students, unlike each other on the surface but bound by a common human condition called loneliness. Takahiro even says at one point that the group is “loneliness come to life.” That is exactly what is the central point and why the creature-horror messaging being weak is not fatal for re/member.
Watching the film reminds me of other teen classics like The Breakfast Club and Dazed & Confused. The conceit in the narration is the same, but the method is different. People who look like “unknowable sh*ts” are, more often than not, the complete opposite of that. And the film defiantly proves the point. Visually, the setting of the deserted school and a group escaping something dangerous is similar to the Korean show All of Us are Dead.
The details in Re/member are not utilized that well. A lot of work could have been done to use the setting better.
And that adds as one of the big negatives. But it is all down to creative choices that service a filmmaker’s vision. Think of them more like the means rather than the end. For Re/member, that choice is to show this unimaginable group of teenagers coming together to find friendship and companionship and stand up for each other, literally facing a slasher apparition of a dead girl. Aside from that, gore and violence fans will be treated to some satisfying deaths.