Hideo Nakata, director of the Japanese horror phenomenon, Ringu, made his feature debut with Joyurei, or Ghost Actress, also known as Don’t Look Up. Nakata worked from a screenplay by Hiroshi Takahashi, who also wrote the screenplay for Ringu 2.
On the set of a dark WWII drama, a young director, Murai, works with two actresses playing sisters. He clearly has a bit of a crush on Hitomi, the older actress, and keeps a photo of her by his bedside. The younger actress, Saori, is inexperienced and playful. One day the production uses discarded tail ends from other productions to shoot, and when they’re looking at the dailies later, they see the scene they were shooting interrupted by a scene (with no sound) from an earlier film. There’s a horrified woman onscreen, with another woman, out of focus, laughing maniacally in the background. There’s also a shot going up a dark stairway to an attic. The footage looks strangely familiar to Murai, who insists that he saw it on television as a boy and was haunted by it. “Have you ever seen a movie and not been able to get it out of your head?” he asks his producer. Murai and Hitomi begin to have strange visions of a ghostly woman around the studio. Murai, obsessed with the footage, gives it to an old editor and asks him to find out its origin. A crewmember tells Murai of another soundstage he worked on that had a ghost in the rafters. One day there’s a tragic death on the set, and the production shuts down for a formal investigation. Murai looks into his own past, and finds a frightening connection between the film he’s shooting and the strange footage he’s uncovered.
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