SANA (ミンナのウタ) (2023)

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Cast: GENERATIONS from EXILE TRIBE, Hayami Akari, Makita Sports, Hoshi Tomoko, Amano Hana
Runtime: 1 hr 42 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Disturbing Scenes)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Official Website:

Opening Day: 5 October 2023

Synopsis: The latest film by Japanese horror master Takashi Shimizu. It’s the birth of a new bloodcurdling horror queen, following the footsteps of Sadako from Ring and Kayako from Ju-On: The Grudge. Sana is a mysterious middle school girl who collects “the sound of soul”. Everyone who hears the melody gets possessed and starts to hum it themselves. At the end of the cursed melody’s chain of infections lies an unexpected terror waiting to strike…

Movie Review:

Of course it has to involve a creepy girl dressed in a middle school uniform. While we’re still at it, why not introduce a creepy tune that is played repeatedly during this Japanese horror movie that is helmed by Takashi Shimizu, who is also known as the creator of the successful Ju-On franchise. But is this movie really meant to a scary flick though? Because we also see that it is headlined by GENERATIONS from EXILE TRIBE.

For the uninitiated viewer (like this writer), the movie stars seven members of a Japanese dance and vocal group. This means that all seven guys would have more or less equal screen time for their fans, and this also means that it is very unlikely there will be any proper character development for these characters.

Not that it is needed though, because the story has it that these seven dudes are playing themselves – yes, as members of the boyband. When one of them (Hayato Komori) goes missing, a private investigator (Makita Sports) is called in to crack the case. Joining him is the band’s manager (Hayami Akari, who interestingly is a former member of the J pop girl group Momoiro Clover Z), who spends most of the time looking intrigued with the baffling incidents happening around her.

You need that one item that is responsible for delivering the scares. For Hideo Nakata's culturally significant Ring (1998), it was a cursed video tape. In this movie, it is a cassette tape found in a recording studio basement. It gives the storywriter a reason to introduce a cassette tape player, so that we can listen to a scratchy recording and hope that such a sound will not pop up when we are trying to sleep at night.

When the various characters start to hum the tune from the cassette tape player, you can predict that strange things are going to happen. People begin to behave weirdly, but no one dies. Things do not seem serious, and you don’t know whether this is leading up to something more sinister. The scare elements in this 102 minute movie are not the most vicious you’ve seen in a horror movie, and while some of them are predictable, they do a fairly decent job if you’re just expecting some mild jump scares.

Things start to take shape when the movie begins to explain who’s the voice behind that creepy tune, and through convenient flashbacks, you see an unsurprising but sad story unfold. Without saying too much, let’s just say there are people in our midst who may not be the most communicative, and we can all play a part to look out for them.

With the origin of the cassette tape being the most commendable aspect of the movie, the story isn’t doing itself a favour by bringing the focus back to the boyband, as they almost meet their doom one by one, and depending on how much you are a fan, you may be a little worried that they will be killed off on the big screen. 

Movie Rating:

(There is a sad backstory amidst the obligatory plot where the boyband members are cursed by a creepy tune)

Review by John Li 

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