There are many different subgenres of J-horror that help make up a film franchise that has infinite layers, something for everyone, and many different forms of horror. Many of these films and their series are considered masterpieces, something that shouldn't be skipped when delving into the genre.
But are they really worth it? Is public opinion overhyping some of these franchises? Have they turned people away from hidden gems in the genre?
Today, I'm going to delve into the Teketeke two-part film to determine whether it's worth your watch or if its something you should reconsider watching.
Film Series Information
Films: Teke Teke and Teketeke 2
Full series run time: 2 hours 23 minutes
Subgenre: Urban legend; slasher
Director(s): Kouji Shiraishi (both films)
Other Notable Films by Director(s): Noroi: The Curse; Carved; Sadako vs Kayako
BACKGROUND - Urban Legend
Teke-Teke (テケテケ) is an urban legend that has sparked fear in many people across the world, even those not living among Japan.
She is the vengeful spirit (known as onryou in Japanese) of a young woman. She fell in front of an oncoming high-speed train and was cut in half, dying instantly at the scene. Now, her upper torso journeys around Japan - usually the footpaths above rail tracks - with her elbows dragging on the ground making a scratch sound most notably described as a tek tek sound, hence her name. She carries either a scythe or scissors and if she comes across anyone, she cuts them in half. There is no known way to prevent the teke teke from killing you, as per the legend.
In some variations of the legend, the teke teke is a schoolgirl who was mercilessly bullied; her tormentors put a large bug on her shoulder which caused her to become frightened and jerk forward, falling in front of the train.
The earliest recount of this legend is about a young schoolboy.
He was walking home from school at midnight when he spotted a beautiful young girl looking out of the window, with her elbows resting on the windowsill. They smiled at each other for a few moments and the boy found himself wondering what a girl was doing at his all-boys school. Before he could think any more, the girl suddenly teleported outside of the window and revealed she had no lower half of her body. Terrified, he stood on the sidewalk staring at her. before he could run, she caught the boy and he was killed. Later, his body was found with the lower half missing.
TEKE TEKE (2009)
Film StatsRunning Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Release Date: 21 March 2009
Average Rating, at time of writing: 6.5/10
Plot: In the first installment of this urban horror series, we follow Ohashi Kana (Oshima Yuko) as she discovers her friend was brutally murdered. Rumours fly around, rumours of the infamous teke teke, of which Kana ignores. Heading to the spot her friend died, she comes into contact with the urban legend and finds that she has days to break the curse before she too falls victim to it.
Opinion: Teke Teke is a film that follows the basic urban legend plot pattern. If you're not well versed with this, essentially, someone dies, a friend and/or relative find out it is due to a curse, they investigate, come in contact with the curse and then have a set amount of days to break the curse and either survive or die. It's pretty basic and you can guarantee many urban legend horror films follow this outline. What's important in these films is the way the director puts their original spin on them. That's what this film is lacking: originality. Whilst it's enjoyable at points with a good build up in its tension and scenes that are genuinely scary to a degree with unintentional jump scares and some intentional, there is a lot that also ruins these moments. With acting that is good at parts but lacking where it matters most and just terrible CGI effects, the negatives of this film are equal or more than the positives. It lacked a lot and unfortunately, I spent more time laughing at this than I did being scared.
TEKETEKE 2 (2009)
Film StatsRunning Time: 1 hour, 13 minutes
Release Date: 21 March 2009
Average Rating, at time of writing: 6.4/10
Plot: Reiko has never had many friends at school, but things get worse for her when she has an altercation with Erica. Erica, being one of the popular girls, has much more pull over the other girls in the class and it isn't long before another altercation between Reiko and Erica occurs. After this, Reiko's only friend - Natsuki - notices that Reiko is behaving very strangely. Even stranger is that shortly after the second incident, the girls who have become enemies of Reiko's begin showing up dead, completely cut in half. There is a murder spree happening through town, and Natsuki is determined to discover the truth behind it before it's too late.
Opinion: TekeTeke 2 was so incredibly unnecessary it would be more than fitting to call it an insult to this series and to the urban legend franchise as a whole. Whilst keeping with the urban legend theme to a small degree, Teketeke 2 becomes a revenge film that twists away from the theme. Whilst this seems like it would be original and a new twist to the franchise and a potential breath of fresh air to the series. If something ain't broke, don't fix it, would have been my response to Kouji Shiraishi.
Whilst it seemed like a good idea and probably did at the time, the execution of this film was just terrible. It completely turned its back to the original legend of the teke teke, which is part of the reason why the franchise is so popular. The idea of this film could have been a gold mine, it could have really been a good film, but it just failed in a lot of things.
Overall, this film had me almost falling asleep during numerous parts of it. It became a bland, short bloody film that didn't even have a good quality of blood and gore to hold it up as it became a slasher film.
HIT OR MISS?
This film series is perceived as relatively decent, with both films scoring 6.5 and 6.4 out of ten respectively on MyDramaList. For horror films on the site, this is pretty good, considering it's hard to find anything rated above 8; generally, anything above 6 stars is considered a good horror film. Any horror film rated above 5 out of 10 can be considered good if you're in a bit of a pinch. Teke Teke is mostly rated at 6/10 by MDL users whilst Teketeke 2 has a mixed rating span, with the two highest being 7.5/10 and 4/10.
On average, public opinion on the Teke Teke series is that it's a good film series; at least, public opinion is that it's an above average film series.
This is a series that tried too hard to work with the urban legend genre of films, but didn't add to its own originality. Whilst it had a good basis - a solid and pretty creepy backstory, a good cast, good music - but it let itself down. It relied too much on the basis of the film and the fact that it was an urban legend film to make money. The CGI was utterly terrible - and in the year they were made, there was no excuse for the almost joke of CGI. Even with a low budget, there was no excuse for it.
The first film is more traditional in its urban legend horror and its tropes but falls flat in the writing. Teke Teke struggled with a lot of its attempts at horror, including a lot of mismatched scenes that didn't live up to the tension build up before, and a lot of bad graphics that just came across as a failed execution - with some even coming across as a 'try hard' attempt.
Whilst the first film could have survived on its own as an average film, the sequel definitely ruined it. Instead of keeping it to one sub-genre, Teketeke 2 dragged tropes from other sub-genres that just seemed like it was trying too hard. It seemed more that Shiraishi was trying to use as many more favourable tropes as possible. It came across much more as a try-hard film, exploiting any form of horror trope that has any positive feedback and tried to use that as a way to invoke more views.
Hit or Miss?
Teke Teke for me is a miss, however, it can be a hit in certain situations. I think if you aren't someone who has watched a lot of urban legend horror that this would be a good place to start. It's not as expansive as other urban legend horrors and for a slasher, it's pretty good. It's not the best but it's okay. For people well-versed in urban legend horror, this may be a film that's a bit of a guilty pleasure, or for people who enjoy their horror to be comedic, will also enjoy this. For others who watch horror for horror, for good horror, this probably is not the film for you in any way.
Teketeke 2 is an absolute miss for me. The return to the urban legend was already bad enough but then they turned it on its head. Entwining urban legend with revenge horror seemed like it would be a good twist, and at first, it seemed like a good move, but Kouji Shiraishi didn't have the right plot to hold it. As summed up in the opinion for the film; there was too much in this. The first cutting of the film to summarise the first gave him only 50-odd minutes to make this work and anyone close with the horror genre will know for a complex plot, two hours often isn't enough, let alone less than an hour. He tried to do too much in such a short time, with bad CGI, bad graphics, and mediocre acting.
Overall, if you want to settle down for a full horror series that entrances you and is of good quality, I would not recommend this at all. You might enjoy the first film in this series, but I don't think the major horror fans will. If you don't mind the bad quality, bad graphics, etc., then this may very well be the film series for you. The second film was honestly mind numbing and I recommend skipping that one unless you want something full of tropes.
Teke Teke: (a rather circumstantial) HIT
Teketeke 2: MISS
So what do you think?
Are you partial to the Teke Teke series?
Are they a hit or a miss for you?
Do you want to avoid them or go on to watch them?
Let me know! !!