Temple Review (2017)

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Temple Review (2017)

Horrorific content by adrian on June 19th, 2018 | Movie Review | Indie Horror, Cursed, Supernatural, Demon, Tourist

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It's a about a group of Americans who travel to rural Japan in search of obscure religious and cultural sights.

Temple was directed by Michael Barrett  and stars Logan Huffman  (from Final Girl), Brandon Sklenar and Natalia Warner.

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Temple Review

Temple starts out strong.

A man in a quarantined wheelchair is slowly wheeled into a sterile interrogation room where two Japanese detectives anxiously await his arrival. Once the quarantined man, whose face is wrapped in bandages, is locked into place in front of the detectives, they begin to question him about an event that took place at some temple above a remote village. The man is silent until a photo of a woman is pulled out, he begins to ask where the photo came from which is when the flashbacks begin.

What an intro into this story! I was captivated. Who was this guy? Why was he in a mobile quarantine? Why was his face bandaged? Who were these detectives? Who's the girl. And what happened at this temple?

During the first few minutes of the flashback we learn that the woman in the photo is a college student named Kate who traveled to Japan with two guys to work on her final thesis on obscure religion and culture. One guy is an old friend named Christopher who speaks Japanese and is there to help her travel. The other is James, her boyfriend who quickly becomes jealous of Christopher (not at all unwarranted considering there seems to be something there between Kate and Christopher).

So now we're a good 20 minutes in and the scene is set. We know the characters, why they're in Japan and we know something goes very, very wrong.

I'm glued to the screen and excited to see how this all plays out.

Well, let's just say it didn't play out at all as I expected. I expected answers to all of the early intruiging questions, at the very least. I expected to know the purpose and maybe even the outcome of this mysterious investigation. I expected to learn what was going on between Kate and Christopher, considering a lot of time was used to build up their history. Hell, I expected to at least know who the guy in the wheelchair was and why he was quarantined.

Temple gives you no answers. It sets you up just to let you down.

But that on its own didn't bother me too much. I personally don't place high value on horror plots. Half of the fun with horrors are the scares, the visuals, the score, the dark themes. Too many plot holes can of course be a problem, but I personally watch horrors for more than just the story.

What DID bother me was the method of story telling. Temple is the kind of movie that holds your hand every step of the way. It's the kind of movie where the characters meet all the right people at just the right time, and then engage in painfully basic dialog to make certain everyone, even the kids in the room, know exactly what's going on.

I won't spoil anything, but there's one scene in particular that serves as a perfect example.

Kate and friends wander into an old used bookstore and immediately find a mysterious book containing cryptic info on an ancient temple. The shopkeeper freaks out, tells them it's not for sale and kicks them out. Christopher circles back later, buys the the book from the shopkeepers grandson and wanders into a bar to read it. The guy sitting right next to him at the bar glances over and immediately knows everything about the temple and of course warns him never to go there. The bartender also knows everything about the temple and even happens to be from the small village near it (and of course tells him exactly how to get there).

This theme continues throughout the entire movie.

So now I'm dealing with unnecessary sub plots, unanswered questions, full knowledge of everything that's going to happen (thanks to the hand holding) and you have an ending that's total deja vu of The Blair Witch Project (one of the director's previous films).

Worth Watching?

Obviously, I wasn't a fan of Temple. Perhaps it's intended for newer or more casual fans of horror. So if you already have some horror experience under your belt, I'd suggest avoiding this one and watching The Shrine instead. It's also about a small group of friends who travel abroad and end up wrapped up in rural supernatural weirdness. It's more complete, less predictable and less reliant on tired tropes and tricks.

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