Overall Rating: 1.6
Director: Michael Barrett
Gore Factor: There's a little bit.
Watch If: You need an example of problematic Orientalism.
Not If: You could go to the dentist instead.
Similar To: Feed the Devil
The Breakdown: When three tourists in Japan fail to heed local warnings, their trip to a secluded temple leads to catastrophe.
Now, I love Japanese folktales, and, given my proclivities, Japanese horror is no exception. But this entire film felt like an American story, where the production company had maybe (if we're being generous,) three people (excluding linguists) who knew anything about Japan. The dreadful tone that's so often prevalent is absent, leaving onl the faint whisp of its suggestion in the first third of the film.
But let's talk about low hanging fruit. Foreigners go to a cursed, abandoned temple. There is mention of what (I think) is supposed to be a Kitsune. There's creepy ghost children. What there is not, however, is any demonstration of how to follow through on a story. Honestly, Temple suffers from a severe case of Shyamalan. What might have been passable, (mind you, passable, not necessarily good) was made into garbage by a savage need to shove a bad twist into the last seven minutes. And what's more, they seem to have chosen to include the twist INSTEAD of the plot explanations. This decision leaves an already lackluster film virtually unwatchable.
Too much, too soon, and the "monster" is more idiotic and uncomfortable than it is haunting. It honestly just looks like it wants someone to put it out of its misery. Not just this, but one of the first times we see it, we are offered a full-frontal view. Also, all of the potentially interesting deaths happen off-screen, which wouldn't be so bad if there were anything redeeming about this film, but there isn't.
Remember, less is more.
The closest thing Temple has to atmosphere, is a permeating sense of "why are you not mad? These people are shitty friends." The film is peppered with aimless jump-scares that wreak of a hamfisted attempt to go back after completion and make the film feel scarier. It succeeds only in making the entire film feel cheaper.
This could have been a creative collaboration. It could have been a witty, well-written step away from America's stereo type as the stupid racists. It could have been a haunting exploration of Japanese folklore.
It is none of these things.
It doesn't even have a real ending. Nothing is explained. If I had to describe Temple in one word, it would be frustrating.