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CLAIMER: CASE 1 and CASE 2 are a pair of Japanese genre films available for on-line rental or purchase from Japan Flix. In CASE 1, Naoto, the head of the customer service branch of a food and beverage company, receives a call from a claimer (someone calling to make a claim or a complaint) about bugs in his mineral water. This creepy claimer, however, soon calls the home of Naoto, asking personal and inappropriate questions.
When he receives a package with the tainted bottles of water, Naoto is certain the caller has planted the bugs somehow. The caller proves that he can find Naoto at any time, becoming more and more dangerous as he glues a razor blade to Naoto’s doorknob and escalates from there.
Highlighting the work ethic and the politeness of Japanese society, CLAIMER: CASE 1 turns those strengths into weaknesses. Naoto’s hard work has paid off but the stress of the situation becomes overwhelming and makes normal life impossible. In accordance with cultural norms, Naoto is overly polite to the claimer, even as he becomes increasingly abusive to the point of being dominated by his tormentor. The film also plays on the string of product recalls from China and Japan that were rampant at the time in 2008. Food, beverages, personal hygiene products and even pet products were found to be tainted and poisonous if consumed, making the possibility of dangerous ingredients from factory-produced goods more frequent.
The plausibility of CLAIMER: CASE 1 is where the fear lies. There are people who indeed get nudged over the edge by seemingly small events and exact revenge on those who are undeserving of their retribution. It’s a well made suspense tale, containing just the right amounts of murder and discomfort to make you afraid to go to work.
Whereas CASE 1 is a thriller, CLAIMER: CASE 2 is a horror film proper. Natsumi, single mom, has replaced Naoto in the customer service department at Yamabe Foods. Her new job proves to be difficult when a claimer calls and alleges that the company’s tea is tainted and caused her to have a miscarriage. Though company leadership thinks there may be a problem, they do nothing and ignore the woman’s complaints even after she jumps from the roof of the company’s headquarters. Then begins the strange phone calls and even stranger deaths of Natsumi’s coworkers.
Using the same setting and many of the minor characters from CLAIMER: CASE 1, CLAIMER: CASE 2 has a completely different tone. Further building upon the fears of tainted products from CASE 1, CASE 2 brings a human face to the drama as well as points a finger at company men who refuse to take responsibility for accidents such as this.
What CASE 2 does differently is that it makes its points through supernatural elements. The staff of Yamabe Foods become haunted, stalked and killed by the ghost of the woman. Though she was a random victim, Yamabe staffers are specifically targeted unlike in many Japanese horror films where victims of angry ghosts are happened upon by chance or coincidence. Here, the goal is to give the crisis in quality control a story and a face, and just as importantly, a chance at revenge.
Like its predecessor, CLAIMER: CASE 2 is a quality directed and acted film with an absorbing story and subplots. It will make you wonder what’s actually in that bottle of iced tea you picked up at the corner store.
For more on either CASE, go here.
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