THE INCITE MILL －7 DAY DEATH GAME－ Production Notes
THE RING Director Hideo Nakata Presents the “Definitive Psychological Battle Movie”
Source: NTV (Nippon Television Network)
Official Site: warnerbros.co.jp/incitemill (Japan)
Special Thanks to Asuka Kimura and Tzeling Huang
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details and images from a Japanese movie not yet released in the United States.
“What happens beyond this point is neither reasonable nor logical. Only those who are still interested should proceed.”
In late 2010, Warner Bros, Japan released THE INCITE MILL －7 DAY DEATH GAME－ (インシテミル ７日間のデス・ゲーム, Inshite Miru: 7-Kakan no Desu Gemu), a new thriller directed by Hideo Nakata (THE RING, DARK WATER, L change the WorLd) and starring Tatsuya Fujiwara (BATTLE ROYALE, DEATH NOTE, KAIJI) and Haruka Ayase (CYBORG SHE, ICHI). Based on the novel The Incite Mill by mystery writer Honobu Yonezawa, the film was promoted by its producers as the “definitive “psychological battle movie”. THE INCITE MILL is not yet available in the United States but was recently licensed by MVM Entertainment for release in the United Kingdom.
SciFi Japan presents a look at THE INCITE MILL －7 DAY DEATH GAME－ with production notes and images courtesy of the film’s co-producer and international sales agent, NTV…
Ten weapons. Ten preparations.
Who will survive the mystery death game and earn big cash?
Do you want in?
Following in the footsteps of DEATH NOTE (2006), KAIJI (2009) and LIAR GAME: THE FINAL STAGE (2010), comes the definitive psychological battle movie THE INCITE MILL －7 DAY DEATH GAME－. Ten star players take part in the thrilling and exciting game: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Haruka Ayase, Satomi Ishihara, Tsuyoshi Abe, Aya Hirayama, Masanori Ishii, Shinji Takeda, Nagisa Katahira, Kinya Kitaoji, and Takuro Ono, an eagerly-awaited new face who was chosen from many candidates. Ten actors and actresses who each have the ability to play a lead character gather to take part in a hell game where they must gamble with their lives to win big money.
The film is adapted from The Incite Mill novel by Honobu Yonezawa, a popular writer who won first place for Takarajima’s “This Mystery is Brilliant!” (Kono was Mystery wa Sugoi) competition in 2010. The story — which describes the death battle between twelve people who stay in a mysterious house for seven days as a challenge to earn ¥112,000 (roughly $1,200 US) per hour — was quickly acclaimed as a masterpiece by mystery fans. Acknowledged as an original work in which the classic mystery styles of Ranpo Edogawa, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie are finely blended with a modern touch, The Incite Mill was highly anticipated to be made into a movie.
The movie’s director is Hideo Nakata, who has created major hits including THE RING and L change the WorLd and also works actively in Hollywood. An acknowledged “King of Horror”, Nakata challenged the concept of a unique mystery by using several filmmaking techniques.
Adding to the fun of the competition is the wide range of performances by ten deluxe performers. Sometimes the players trick each other with a poker face and sometimes they accuse with a fierce look. Who murders who? Who gets big cash? The actors make this enjoyable beyond a mere mystery drama. You can’t take your eyes off the screen until the end.
One of the attractive things about THE INCITE MILL －7 DAY DEATH GAME－ is the high paying stakes… 112,000 yen per hour→ 2,688,000 yen per day in total→ 16,128,000 yen (roughly $201,600 US) at the end of the game on the 7th day.
Furthermore, author Honobu Yonezawa created an innovative system where the participants can earn big cash bonuses whether they are murdered or murder others. Victims and offenders alike are motivated by this and the situation grows increasingly confused as the game plays out over several days.
They cheat each other and kill each other. This great story with a new concept will engross audiences. An experiment in human carnage commences behind closed doors…
Ten people respond to a preposterous job posting — a short term project promising to pay ¥112,000 an hour. Yuki, a young freelancer struggling to make ends meet. Ando, an ex-president whose company went bankrupt. Fuchi, a stay-at-home-mom. Iwai, a guy with an unknown background. Nishino, a middle aged salaryman who got downsized. Osako, a resident. Wakana, a manicurist. Sekimizu, a web designer. Shoko, an ex-office worker. Maki, a college student. They all need money for their own personal reasons. “It sounds dodgy, but the money is hard to resist…”
They gather at the “Paranoia House” — located in the lower levels of a remote complex called the Ankikan — and are informed that their job is to take part in a psychological experiment in which they will all be observed 24 hours a day for seven days. During that time they will attempt to solve the “inappropriate and illogical criminal cases” that they experience there. If a case occurs, all participants will decide who was responsible by majority vote. The chosen “criminal person” is then imprisoned.
Once they are locked into the complex the rules of the experiment are explained…
◆ Each person is assigned to one of ten unlocked rooms.
◆ Each room contains a different, deadly weapon such as an ice pick, axe or poison.
◆ Each person must return to their room by 10:00 pm and remain there until the following 6:00 am.
◆ If a case occurs, it must be solved.
◆ The person who volunteers a solution is known as a “detective person”.
◆ Whether the solution of the “detective person” is correct or not is decided by majority vote.
◆ If a “criminal person” is decided by majority vote, the “detective person” must pronounce the imprisonment of the
◆ The experiment will conclude at the end of seven days, or when there are only two survivors remaining.
◆ If nothing happens in the seven days, each of the participants will go home with over 16 million yen.
◆ In addition, the following extra pays are awarded for this job:
Bonus for a detective person… pay double
Bonus for a criminal person… pay double
Bonus for a dead body… pay double
It seems so simple… a dream job that can make them all multimillionaires. But what was waiting for them in this suspicious house is not a dream but nightmare. On the second day, one of the participants is shot to death…
Everyone panics at the discovery of the dead body. But they are locked inside Paranoia House so they have no choice other than to follow the rules and determine who was responsible. Who is the murderer? Who has a gun?
It soon dawns on the participants that bonuses are paid to both the criminal person and the victim. In other words, any of them may commit a murder for double pay. And weapons were placed in each of their rooms as if to tempt their desire for more money. Their paranoia kicks in under such a situation that they don’t know who might attack them at any minute in the confined house. How will they spend six more days? To be murdered or murder others? Or escape any conflict until the time limit expires? Who will be able to get out of the Paranoia House with the highest pay on hand?
The participants are killed one after another. Eventually Yuki becomes aware of a hidden terror behind this mystery death game…
CHARACTERS and CAST
Rikuhiko Yuki/ Tatsuya Fujiwara
Rikuhiko Yuki is a 26 year old freelance employee. Looking for a high paying job to buy a car, he is referred to the job at Paranoia House by Shoko. He is attracted to Shoko and often stays close to her during the experiment. Timid and peaceful, Yuki calls for everyone to trust each other, but…
Tatsuya Fujiwara was born on May 15, 1982 in Saitama prefecture. His talent was discovered by Yukio Ninagawa, and he made his stage debut in SHINTOKU-MARU in London. Since then, he has performed in a variety of stage shows produced by Yukio Ninagawa, including MODERN NOH PLAY ~YORO-BOSHI~ (2000, 2005), HAMLET (2003), ROMEO AND JULIET (2004-2005) and ORESTES (2006). He has also performed in ROPE (2006-2007), THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (2007), THE SEAGULL (2008), ANJIN ENGLISH SAMURAI (2009) and MOKUAMI OPERA (2010). In 2008, he performed SHINTOKU-MARU after an interval of 6 years in Washington, D.C., and received glowing notices in the local press. MUSASHI opened in 2009, and earned such positive international recognition that it was replayed in London and New York the next year. GOOD-FOR-NOTHING TAKUBOKU, produced and directed by Koki Mitani, opened at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space in January 2011.
His major movie appearances include BATTLE ROYALE (2000), BATTLE ROYALE II: REQUIEM (2003), DEATH NOTE (2006), CHAMELEON (2008), KAIJI (2009), PARADE (2010), KAIJI 2 (2011) and WELCOME HOME, HAYABUSA (2012). He also worked as a voice actor in the movie ARRIETTY (2010), and the Korean TV drama IRIS. He received the 24th and 27th Japan Academy Award: Best Actor in 2000 and 2004, 38th Kinokuniya Stage Prize: Personal Award in 2004, and 11th Yomiuri Stage Award: Haruko Sugimura Award in 2004. He is a young and strong actor who has great prestige within the theatrical and movie world.
For THE INCITE MILL, Tatsuya Fujiwara recalled that, “Director Nakata does not accept even the slightest error. It wasn’t easy to meet his expectations.” But he learned to quickly respond to the director’s requests such as “increase tension.” Fujiwara has been acknowledged for his portrayals of humans struggle against adversity in works such as BATTLE ROYALE and KAIJI. His expressive power in depicting the hellish intensity with just his expression and posture beautifully conveys the freakiness of the Paranoia House.
Shoko Suwana / Haruka Ayase
24 year old Shoko Suwana is a mysterious, beautiful girl. She previously worked in an office, but quit the job to take part in this experiment. After meeting Yuki in a convenience store, she asked him to join her. She is occasionally suggestive to Yuki during the experiment. Shoko is a mystery novel-lover like Fuchi.
Haruka Ayase was born in 1985 in Hiroshima prefecture. She was spotlighted when she appeared in a TV drama CRYING OUT LOVE, IN THE CENTER OF THE WORLD. Since then, she took part in TV dramas such as HOTARU NO HIKARI- IT’S ONLY LITTLE LIGHT IN MY LIFE and THE FANTASTIC DEER-MAN, and became one of the most notable young actresses both in her popularity and ability. In 2008, she has played the leading part in films for the first time, and appeared in many titles such as CYBORG SHE, ICHI, THE MAGIC HOUR, and HAPPY FLIGHT. Her performance was well received, and she was awarded The New Actress Award of 32nd Fumiko Yamaji Awards and Best Actress of 21st Nikkan Sports Film Awards.
Born on March 24, 1985 in Hiroshima pref. She entered the limelight with the TV drama named SOCRATES IN LOVE in 2004 and has performed in a variety of dramas including WHITE NIGHT, HOTARU NO HIKARI- IT’S ONLY LITTLE LIGHT IN MY LIFE, THE FANTASTIC DEER-MAN, MR. BRAIN and JIN. Her film credits include the popular movies JAM FILMS (2002), THE RIVER OF FIRST LOVE (2004), SAMURAI COMMANDO MISSION 1549 (2005), HERO (2007), CYBORG SHE (2008), THE MAGIC HOUR (2008), ICHI (2008) and HAPPY FLIGHT (2008). She received the 33rd Japan Academy Award: Best Actress and popularity award as well as the 52nd Blue Ribbon Award: Best Actress award in 2010 with OPPAI VOLLEYBALL (2009). In addition to that, she released a new single called “Marguerite” in August, 2010. She is currently the most popular and talented young actress in Japan.
Haruka Ayase recalls, “In the scene where I whisper to Yuki, Director Nakata was saying that ‘this is the scene to shoot focused on ears and mouth.’ I got very enthusiastic”. In this work, Ayase played the role of Shoko, an attractive woman like a goddess to whom Yuki loses his heart. How will Ayase who has played challenging roles such as a cyborg and the female Zatoichi (blind sword master) play the role of the mysterious girl, Shoko?
Miya Sekimizu / Satomi Ishihara
A 25 year old WEB designer who looks neat but is suffering from trauma related to parental abuse she received as a child. Miya has a seriously ill son, and has joined the game to pay his medical bills.
Satomi Ishihara was born on December 24, 1986 in Tokyo. She was awarded the grand prize as “Pure Girl 2002” in the 27th Horipro Talent scout caravan. She debuted next year with the movie MY GRANDPA TAUGHT ME A LOT ABOUT LIFE and swept the newcomer prizes of the year. In 2003, she was selected as a heroine in NHK’s (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) TV series named TERUTERU FAMILY. She has performed in a variety of TV dramas including H2 ~DAYS SPENT WITH YOU, Ns’ AOI, BRIDE AND PAPA, PUZZLE, VOICE ~VOICE OF LIFELESS PEOPLE~, LEFT EYE DETECTIVE EYE and RUNAWAY LAWYER MAKOTO NARITA. She has also performed on stages in MIRACLE WORKER, BAKUMATSU JUNJOUDEN and SUITE BLOODSHED. In 2007, she received the 29th Japan Academy Award: Best Actress for her performance in the movie ONE YEAR IN THE NORTH. Her major movie appearances include JAM FILMS S (2005), THE BANDAGE CLUB (2007), SUSHI PRINCE! GOING TO NEW YORK (2008), FLYING RABBITS (2008), NO LONGER HUMAN (2010) ZATOICHI THE LAST (2010) and SADAKO 3D (2012). In 2007, she started her new career as voice actress in MONSTER HOUSE (Japanese voice over version) and CINNAMON THE MOVIE.
Satomi Ishihara has a strong public image of an innocent girl, but in INCITE MILL she played the role of a wife with a dark side. Everything from her appearance — including costume and hair style — to performance has evolved. Ishihara said, “I feel that I gave a new impression. Because this is a work that we will not know ‘who thinks what’ until the end of the game, giving a performance that does not reveal my state of mind to the audience was interesting”. Her serious attitude to play led to an impressive and brilliant performance.
Yudai Osako / Tsuyoshi Abe
Yudai Osako introduced himself to the other contestants as a resident physician who had an interest in this experiment as a physician . But Osako is actually a would-be-doctor who has not passed the national exam for medical parishioners yet… he has lost big in stocks and plans to apply the money from this part-time job to repay his debts. A 26 year old with a strong personality, he tries to assume a leadership position in the group by sheer bravado.
Tsuyoshi Abe was born on February 13, 1982 in Heilongjiang Province, the People’s Republic of China. He moved to Japan when he was 9, and eventually became a naturalized Japanese citizen. He studied at the Beijing Film Academy at the age of 18. In September 2002, he joined a Taiwanese agent and started acting under the Chinese name “Li Zhendong” in 2005. He first came to attention when he played Akira Mimasaka, one of the F4 members, in the TV drama series BOYS OVER FLOWERS. He debuted as a movie actor in 2002 with the Korean/Hong Kong movie titled PUBLIC TOILET. His major movie appearances include UNTIL THE LIGHTS COME BACK (2005), VOICE OF DOG: HAPPY DOG PAWS (2006), CHRISTMAS ON JULY 24TH AVENUE (2006), ROUGH (2006), BOYS OVER FLOWERS: FINAL (2008), LOVE NOTES 12 FRUITS (2009), ZEBRAMAN 2: ATTACK ON ZEBRA CITY (2010), SURELY SOMEDAY (2010), SMUGGLER (2011) and WILD 7 (2011). He also acted in the Taiwanese movie THIRTEEN ORPHANS (2006) and the Chinese movie IMPERFECT LOVER (2006). He took advantage of his fluent Chinese to play a Chinese character in the Japanese TV drama titled MOON LOVERS (2010). He played the lead onstage for the first time in THE BOYS IN THE BAND at the PARCO Theater.
Abe usually portrays a mild character who never gets angry for for INCITE MILL he jokes that, “This time I played a role of a bad person”. When a case occurred, Yudai Osako’s desire and over-enthusiasm to lead others was spot-on. Abe showed a different aspect from previous roles like his handsome guy character in BOYS OVER FLOWERS.
Wakana Tachibana / Aya Hirayama
Wakana Tachibana is a 24 year old manicurist. The girlfriend of Yudai Osako, her ultimate goal is to marry him. She always stays close to Osako in Paranoia House. Wakana tends to express her feelings honestly and grows increasingly panicked as the experiment progresses.
Aya Hirayama was born on January 13, 1984 in Tochigi prefecture, and was awarded grand prize in the 23rd Horipro talent scout caravan. She appeared in her first starring role, a movie titled LOVERS’ KISS, in 2003. Her major movie appearances include WATER BOYS (2001), TOKYO TOWER (2005), the serial movie DIARY OF A FISHING FOOL (2005, 2007), FIGHTER IN THE WIND (2006), BACK DANCERS! (2006), KITOKITO (2007), MAYU ~ STARIN TH HEART (2007), FLOWERS IN THE SHADOWS (2008) and GOKUSEN THE MOVIE (2009). She first played the lead in the serial TV drama HARUKA 17 and has since performed in several dramas. She recently appeared in a web drama by Gyao! titled OH! MY PROPOSE (2010) and she also appears regularly on TV in variety shows. In addition, she writes a column for a fashion magazine Seda. In 2004, at the age of 20, she received the best pearl dresser award, and expanded her career in a fashion field by publishing a fashion book named Happy★A and producing many collaboration items with Malkomalka and other fashion brands. Her unique sense of fashion has gathered attention.
Hirayama adds the cuteness of modern girl to the character of Wakana with nail polish and cell phone decorations. And she enjoys acting which deceives the audience till the end (in a positive way). “Director Nakata said to me, ‘Always smile and act as if you were at an amusement park’.””, she recalled. “But I found it difficult to be cheerful and enjoying myself when everyone else was acting so suspicious”.
Munehiro Nishino / Masanori Ishii
35 year old Munehiro Nishino has drifted from one job to the next after getting laid off due to the recession. He is separated from his wife and children. Nishino is talkative and friendly, but his shotgun comments that the participants look like the perpetrators of various crimes leads to confusion and hostility.
Masanori Ishii was born on March 21, 1973 in Kanagawa prefecture. He launched the comic duo called “Ari to Kirigirisu” (The Grasshopper and the Ant) with Yoshiyuki Ishizuka. He has appeared regularly in a program called VOCABULA since October 1996. His polite character, a business person wearing suits with business cards and who speaking accurately, has gained much attention. In 1999, he was discovered by popular playwright Koki Mitani and got the role of Mamoru Saionji in the TV series FURUHATA NINZABOROU SPECIAL VS SMAP. He played a perfectly unique character and received the Élan d’or Award for newcomers in 2000. He is popular both as an actor as well as a comedian. His major movie appearances include GRADUATION (2003), THE NEGOTIATOR: MASHITA MASAYOSHI (2005), THE WOW-CHOTEN HOTEL (2006), LEMON NO KORO (2007), LONG LONG MURDER (2008), SHAOLIN GIRL (2008) and RAILWAYS (2010). He performs in various fields such as variety shows, commercials, and language educational program. In addition, he works as a voice actor and a narrator for documentary programs.
Ishii has experience with closed-door mysteries such as the NINZABURO FURUHATA television series. He reveals the secret: “What I focus on when appearing in a mystery is to be as fresh as possible as a performer. It is a universal challenge for a performer not to give away a hint of conspiracy when he knows how the story develops. This is particularly important for a movie like this”. He nonchalantly follows his own course in THE INCITE MILL.
Yukito Maki / Takuro Ono
At 21, Yukito Maki is the youngest player. A University student, he applies for the job with a view to getting rich quick instead of working diligently. Maki makes it a rule not to make friends and tends to avoid contact with other people. He becomes a detective in the experiment and provokes other people.
Takuro Ono was born on November 14, 1988 in Tokyo. He is a junior student at Rikkyo University, studying in College of Community & Human Services. He was chosen as a Mr. Rikkyo in 2009, and he debuted after winning the audition called “Campustar ★H50 with Men’s Non-no” for university boys who aim to be actors on January 2010. He has been in the limelight ever since, appearing in fashion and culture magazines. Since April 2010, he has appeared regularly in a talk variety program and a radio program as MC. This movie is his debut.
Ono was chosen as the only new face in THE INCITE MILL. He says, “I played with a strong will,” and acts with hard-bitten veterans with that spirit. Though he has strength which is uncharacteristic for a newcomer, his immaturity can still be seen with his youthful comment: “But obviously everyone was serious, so I didn’t lose but didn’t win either”. He might turn into a formidable player after learning tricks from the other 9 people.
Sosuke Iwai / Shinji Takeda
28 year old Sosuke Iwai is a quiet outsider; reluctant to talk about himself and avoiding contact with other people as much as possible. He does not work in groups and is the most mysterious one among 10 participants. Iwai is usually quiet but get emotional sometimes.
Shinji Takeda was born on December 18, 1972 in Hokkaido. He was awarded the grand prix in the 2nd Junon Super Boy Contest in 1989. He gained attention by acting in a drama titled NIGHT HEAD in 1992, and he debuted in the movie CULT SEVEN that same year. He first played the lead in director Yukio Ninagawa’s work SHINTOKU-MARU. He was highly acclaimed as an actor in the drama KIMI NO TE GA SASAYAITERU by EX from 1997 to 2001. His major stage appearances include TRAIN MAN, SWEENEY TODD, TRIUMPH OF LOVE, ELISABETH, BLOOD BROTHERS, and ROCK’N ROLL. He has performed in several movies such as TOKYO EYES which was selected to screen for the 1998 Cannes Film Festival and he played the lead in LA GRANDE ILLUSION which was selected for the 1999 Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografi. He received a Japanese Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Blue Ribbon Award for Best Supporting Actor with TABOO in the same year. He has performed in MEMORIES OF MATSUKO (2006), LOVE DEATH (2007), LOST CRIME －TWINKLE－ (2010), and KITTY’S TEAR (2008) in which he received the Prix Un Certain Regard in Tokyo International Film Festival. He composed and played the theme song for the movie YOU ARE THE HITMAN FROM TODAY. In addition, he regularly performs in TV programs called MECHA-MECHA IKITERU! by CX, and NEW DOMOTO BROTHERS by CX as a saxophone player.
With his musical background, Takeda explains his character in a unique and simple way: “My character chooses a somewhat different chord progression from other the 9 people who play their own melody”. On the basis of his very finely calculated performance plan, he exhibits a trained technique nurtured by the experiences, not only in acting, but in music activity and variety shows. He expresses confidence, saying, “I demonstrate an extraordinary concentration”.
Sawako Fuchi / Nagisa Katahira
Sawako Fuchi is a 48 year old housewife who lives in Setagaya. A fan of mystery novels and criminal profiling shows, she watches the other participants carefully with interest. Fuchi immediately recognizes there are quotations from existing mysteries in the game.
Born on July 12, 1959 in Tokyo, Nagisa Katahira appeared in a talent show called STAR TANJO and debuted as a singer with “Jun-ai” in 1975. In the same year, she appeared for the first time in the moved AOI SANMYAKU. She has performed in several TV dramas. She first performed on a stage in 1989. In addition to performing as an actress, she has worked as an assistant for a long-running show for 10 and a half years. She has appeared in many 2-hour dramas since around 1990. Her unique and solid performance have been popular with viewers. She performed in 1977 in a movie titled BLACK JACK, VISITOR IN THE EYES. And in 2006, 29 years later, she returned to movies with TRICK –THE MOVIE 2 and MEMORIES OF MATSUKO. in 2010 her movie FEAR was released.
Katahira is called “Queen of the 2-hour drama” and has appeared in many mystery shows. Her character in THE INCITE MILL is a housewife who loves mystery. She recalls the experience: “It was very difficult to act between fear and curiosity”. She alluringly expresses a curious middle-aged woman in a youthful and cheerful manner. She also leaves the audience with lingering suspicions that “She could be…?”
Yoshiya Ando / Kinya Kitaoji
60 year old Yoshiya Ando is the alcoholic ex-company president who participates in the game to turn things around after his company went bankrupt. Despite his drinking problem, he tries to act wisely as the oldest participant.
Kinya Kitaoji was born on February 23, 1943 in Kyoto prefecture. He debuted in the movie OYAKODAKA with his father, Utaemon Ichikawa, in 1956. He has performed mainly in a group called Toei-Jidaigeki ever since. He made his stage debut in 1964 with CYRANO DE BERGERAC, produced by Takeo Matsuura. He has consistently appeared in huge movies ever since such as KUKAI (1984), HAKKOSADN (1977) and HIMATSURI (1985). He took over his father’s successful character “Hatamoto taikutsu otoko”. He has acted as famous characters in many successful samurai programs. He has received the Élan d’or Award, Galaxy Award, Japan Academy Award: Best Actor, Mainichi Film Award: Best Actor, Hochi Film Award: Best Actor, Kinema Junpo Award: Best Actor, Kazuo Kikuta’s Play Award and many others. He received the Medal with Purple Ribbon in 2007. His major stage performances include SHINKANSEN ☆RX GOEMON-ROCK produced by Hidenori Inoue and FROST/NIXON produced by Katsuhide Suzuki. His drama appearances include THE FAMILY by TBS, ATSUHIME by NHK and more. He also performed in the movies BOYS OVER FLOWERS, ETERNAL FIRST LOVE and SAKURADAMON GAI NO HEN.
Kitaoji says, “I find depth, like laws of the universe, within the world of THE INCITE MILL.” He is a veteran actor with 54 years of experience, a pillar on the set with his great receptiveness. He is well known for his sober performance in samurai dramas and also as a member of the Japanese Mafia in JINGINAKI TATAKAI and KUKAI. But, surprisingly, he also does the voice of the dog in Softbank’s commercials as well. His magician-like performance in THE INCITE MILL will fascinate the audience.
Planning and Development
In August 2007, the mystery novel The Incite Mill was published by Bungeishunju, to much attention from mystery fans and book lovers. Hiroyoshi Koiwai, a producer at Warner Bros., read the book and was fascinated not only by its entertaining story but also by the life-or-death suspense which engages the reader’s brain. Realizing that he could cast young-generation stars, Koiwai began planning and development for the movie adaptation.
From the start, Hideo Nakata was the only choice to direct THE INCITE MILL. As a pioneer of Japanese horror movies, there was no one but him who could depict the madness in the locked room. It was also an important factor that he was not just good at depicting such extraordinary scenes but also able to deeply portray characters onscreen. Trapped humans are likely to reveal their true nature, and it wasthe producers felt Nakata had the ability to create this most interesting aspect with solid reality.
However, Nakata did not respond to the offer immediately. He thought the narrative of The Incite Mill, which is ‘making money by killing someone’, was against his moral values. He did understand the appeal of such a narrative, but for more than half a year he kept asking himself if he could make an immoral movie. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. did not offer the job to any other directors.
Persistent from the Beginning
Nakata said, “I want to express the comicality when what seems impossible actually happens”. On a rainy March 6, 2010, shooting started at a convenience store in Kanda, Tokyo. It was a scene from the beginning of the story, in which Tatsuya Fujiwara as Rikuhiko Yuki and Haruka Ayase as Shoko Suwana take interest in a part-time job with an hourly wage of 112,000 yen.
Though it was a short scene, only about 1 page in the script, Nakata was determined to shoot the start of this absurd drama without compromise. He persistently shot the expressions of actors and it took from morning till afternoon.
He tried to portray Shoko like an angel in the eyes of Yuki. Fujiwara has never played such an ordinary boy, who is susceptible to money and beautiful women. The fact that he plays this part makes it seem fresh.
Another Cosmic Dimension / Paranoia House
Nakata was determined to fill the set of Paranoia House with sense of chills and thrills. The Paranoia House set was built in the 13th Nikkatsu film studio. The movie was going to be shot mainly here for over one month until the beginning of April.
There was not enough space for building the circular mansion exactly the same as described in the novel. So, art director Iwao Saito, who had worked with Nakata on DON’T LOOK UP and SLEEPING BRIDE, decided to change it to ellipse. Saito designed the interior with implications for the expressionism of baroque era. The floor, the ceiling, and the walls were all painted in grey, and while the house holds the impression of coldness, peculiar curves placed at intervals creates an organic atmosphere. The layout of Paranoia House also represents something cosmic. Such design makes Paranoia House appear as a living organism with a will of its own. Thorough aesthetic values were given to the decorations of the mortuary and cell, which made it possible to create pictures with nuances wherever the scene was shot even in this movie which the setting does not change much. Footlights placed on the floor have the implications for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.
At any rate, it causes a feeling of uneasiness to walk in the circular set due to a sense of disorientation. It is not difficult to imagine the state of mind of the people who were trapped there. In addition, the set creates an echo effect so even breaths and footsteps fuel the fear.
Heated Battle Among Actors in a Locked Space
“You smell blood. OK, camera is rolling! Ready, action!!”
“The door just closed. Feel a sense of urgency. Ready, action!!”
Nakata always explained the scene before starting to shoot. The way he spoke was like a narrator. Though murders take place in the story, it was difficult to maintain realistic emotions because the scenes were not shot in chronological order. The director’s effort to create the atmosphere helped the actors maintain their motivation.
However, the actors in the movie are experienced veterans who were able to understand the director’s intentions instantly and delivered a performance in the bloody scene. Their great reflexes and rich expressiveness were astonishing. For example, first Tatsuya Fujiwara screams with heightened tension… his words could be heard wherever you were. The scene where 10 people tangle with each other with gnawing suspicions was very thrilling, even if there is no dynamic physical action. Haruka Ayase and Satomi Ishihara create an aura of mystery, and Shinji Takeda and Masanori Ishii cause confusion like a trickster. Tsuyoshi Abe and Aya Hirayama also display challenging acting in a convincing way. Nagisa Katahira and Kinya Kitaoji add dignity with their mature presence. Then newcomer Takuro Ono makes a great effort to keep up with the others, which creates momentum. There is excellent teamwork on display.
In any case, this is an intensely deep and rich movie. Ten actors display their strong and glamorous personality and it is hard to take our eyes off the screen. Above all, it is exhilarating to see great actors’ performances turn the fictional story into the realistic one which pierces into the heart.
In fact, the set of Paranoia House was so small that main staff could not often get inside during shooting in the mortuary, cell, and private rooms.They sometimes had to watch the performances on a monitor outside. But the monitor was rarely used based on the director’s policy, so what was happening inside was often not known. It was literally a battle behind the closed door.
Mysterious Robot Guard
Guard, a robot which also appears in the original story, has the purpose of observing Paranoia House and eliminating those who break rules. Tracks were fitted on the ceiling based on Nakata’s idea to move the guard robot like a worm.
Guard has 6 legs and 2 arms, and weighs about 20kg. It is mountable so that it can be efficiently attached to the ceiling. The robot was made of FRP (a material used for surfboards). It took about one and a half months to construct.
The Meaning Behind Presenting this Movie Now
To avoid making this film just an intellectual murder game, the message, which is “Paranoia House’s Little World” = “Outside World”, is dignified. Paranoia House is a metaphor for the world and an epitome of a condensed modern society. How do we live in this lawless world where greed is prevalent? What should we do under such circumstances? The answer is summarized in the word addressed by Yuki (played by Tatsuya Fujiwara) in the film: “Let’s believe in each other”. The title of the theme song sung by May’n is also called “Shinjite miru” (= I believe you).
Director: Hideo Nakata
Hideo Nakata believes THE INCITE MILL －7 DAY DEATH GAME－ will be the high point of his career.
He was born in 1961 in Okayama prefecture and entered the University of Tokyo where he majored in liberal arts. Nakata took Shigehiko Hasumi’s film seminar class in the university, where he started studying films. He started working in Nikkatsu Studio and began making movies as an assistant director. In 1992, he debuted as a director with the SCARY TRUE STORIES series. He gained attention with his movie titled DON’T LOOK UP in 1996. THE RING, released in 1998, created a horror boom in the Japanese movie world by propelling the genre called “J Horror” (Japanese Horror). THE RING and DARK WATER (2002) were remade in Hollywood. He himself joined the American series of THE RING TWO (2005). After debuting in Hollywood, he was called “World-famous Nakata”. His other major films include CHAOS (2000), SADISTIC AND MASOCHISTIC (2001), LAST SCENE (2002), KAIDAN (2007), L change the worLd (2008) and the documentary movie FOREIGN FILMMAKERS’ GUIDE TO HOLLYWOOD (2009) which was based on his own experiences. His British movie titled CHATROOM was played in “Un Certain Regard” at the 63rd Festival de Cannes. He has continued working around the world.
Regarding THE INCITE MILL Nakata says; “It is basically a suspense horror, or rather, suspense thriller. Mystery is a genre for novels and not used for movies. There are movies based on Agatha Christie’s books, but films cannot be created with the grammar of novels, so I decided to go with suspense thriller. The story progresses from the viewpoint of the protagonist, Yuki. The movie is filled with thrills, surging uneasiness and fear. I was conscious of Alfred Hitchcock, whom I respect. He masterfully used beautiful blond women in his works, so I projected my ideal image onto the four females in this film.”
“All of the cast, except for one, have good experience of playing the lead role. Their aggressive manner in acting was reassuring, which made me feel as if I had been making several different movies at the same time. Its density is a few films’ worth. I intentionally did not unify the quality of 10 actors’ performances and enjoyed filming a little bit ragged impression. All the actors approached each character with great persistence, but also left the decisions to the director when necessary. Their good sense of balance contributed to the fulfilling shooting.”
“The story is that a murder game develops in the locked space called Paranoia House. But, in fact, it is structured in a way that the participants are being watched by the people outside as an entertainment. In order for the audience to experience such realistic terror, I focused on making it raw. A murder game in an underground space sounds unrealistic, but I think similar things are happening in real life too. Business involving the misuse of the internet is commonly conducted, and it actually happens that you passively observe the terrible situations in the outside world while you are in a safe place. This is not a war-themed movie, but there is a message of warning in it. I would like the audience to enjoy the fictional mystery murder game, but also to think, ‘Wait, what about real life?’.”
Original Writer: Honobu Yonezawa
Honobu Yonezawa was born in 1978 in Gifu prefecture. He debuted as a writer with Hyouka (classics series part 1) which was awarded the 5th Kadokawa Gakuen Novel Prix in Young Miserly & Horror section. Sayonara Yousei was named the top 20 of “the great mystery!” nationwide in 2005… the story earned a strong reputation as a youth novel with “daily mystery”.
Yonezawa’s novels have often been selected as “the great mystery!” recently, and he was chosen as the most popular writer of 2010. His popularity has expanded widely mainly among the younger generation. His novel Natsu Gentei Tropical Parfait Jiken (2006) became a comic, and he now is an acclaimed writer in many fields. He contributed short stories to Gamakura-shi Jiken 2 and Story Seller. He also joined Futaro Yamada’s novel Seishun Tantei-dan and Maurice Leblanc’s novel Le triangle d’or as a commentator. His other works include Gusha no End roll, Kudoryafuka no junban, Toomawarisuru hina, Futarino kyori no gaisan (classics series) and Haru Gentei Ichigo Tart Jiken, Aki Gentei Kurikinton Jiken, Inu ha dokoda?, Bottleneck and Hakanai hitsujitachino shukuen (shoshimin series). THE INCITE MILL, which is based on the novel nominated for the 8th authentic mystery award, is his first movie.
Screenplay: Satoshi Suzuki
Suzuki was born in 1963 in Tochigi prefecture and graduated from School of Education, Waseda University. He started working in composing documents and became a director. His original play RABARU CHUSINGURA was highly acclaimed in several contests, therefore he became a playwright. He received the Japan Academy Award: Best Playwright and Kinema Junpo Japanese Film Playwright Award with JUBAKU: SPELLBOUND” in 2000. His works include BERNA (2006), LORELEI: THE WITCH OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN (2005), MOYURUTOKI, THE EXCELLENT COMPANY” (2006), NOBODY TO WATCH OVER ME — which was awarded the Montreal World Film Festival: best playwright–, the animation movie THE FALLEN ANGEL: DIRECTOR’S CUT VERSION (2009) and many TV dramas. He also engaged in TV animation with the NEURO -SUPERNATURAL DETECTIVE (2007) and TOP SECRET, THE REVELATION series in 2008. In 2007, he expanded his activities and wrote lyrics for Hitomi Shimatani in one of her “Memory+loveletter” songs called “kuon”.
Music: Kenji Kawai
Born in 1957 in Tokyo, Kenji Kawai has performed as a guitarist since dropping out from Tokai University, Nuclear Engineering Department. He performed the music of AKAI MEGANE in 1986, which was one of Mamoru Oshii’s works that led him become a composer. He then created music for live-action movies, animation movies and TV series. His works include director Mamoru Oshii’s GHOST IN THE SHELL (1995), AVALON (2000), INNOCENCE (2004) and THE SKY CRAWLERS (2008), plus the DEATH NOTE series (2006), OROCHI (2008), THE CHERRY ORCHARD: BLOSSOMING (2008), RAIN FALL (2009) and director Shoichi Mashiko’s THE HOVERING BLADE (2009). His TV credits include the series MEZON IKKOKU, RANMA 1/2, MOBILE POLICE PATLABOR, FATE/STAY NIGHT, MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM 00, ULTRAMAN NEXUS and KASOKEN NO ONNA.
His music is highly acclaimed overseas, so that he has expanded his career in foreign productions such as the French movies SAMOURAIS (2002), BLOODY MALLORY (2002), the Korean movie ANTARCTICA DIARY (2005), the Hong Kong movies DRAGON TIGER GATE (2007), SEVEN SWORDS (2005), IP MAN (2008), IP MAN 2 (2010) and the China/Korea/Japan’s collaboration A BOTTLE OF WITS (2007). He has worked with director Hideo Nakata before on THE RING series in 1998 and 1999, SLEEPING BRIDE (2000), CHAOS (2000), SADISTIC AND MASOCHISTIC (2001), DARK WATER (2002), KAIDAN (2007), L change the worLd (2008), and CHATROOM (2010).
Theme song: May’n
May’n was born on October 21 in Aichi prefecture. She first played in the TV animation MACROSS FRONTIER as a galactic diva named Sheryl Nome. Her 2 singles released in the same year entered the Oricon charts in 3rd place. In January 2009, she held a tour for the first time. In the same month, she released long-awaited mini album named “Main☆Street”, which appeared on the Oricon charts in 2nd place. All of the other music released afterwards has held top 10 rank on the Orikon charts.
The tickets of her concert which was held in Nippon Budokan in January 2010 sold out immediately. She launched her Asia tour in March, and started her SUMMER TOUR 2010 “Phonic◆Nation side-A/B” that July 30. She visited 17 places in Japan for her live tour. She values the live where she can directly send her songs to her fans both in Japan and overseas. She also issued her photo album entitled May’n Asia Tour 2010 Official Photo Book Big★Waaaaave! in Asia. Her other works include an introduction song named “Ready Go!” for TV animation WOLF AND 7 FRIENDS which was released on July 28, 2010.
THE INCITE MILL －7 DAY DEATH GAME－ CREDITS
107min / Color / Screen Size: 1:1.85 / Japanese Theatrical Release: October 16, 2010
Original Story: Honobu Yonezawa The Incite Mill (Bungeishunju)
Director: Hideo Nakata
Screenplay: Satoshi Suzuki
Theme song: “Shinjitemiru” May’n (FlyingDog)
Music: Kenji Kawai
Cinematography: Junichiro Hayashi
Production Design: Iwao Saito
Lighting: Masahiro Isono
Sound Engineer: Kiyoshi Kakizawa
Sound FX Design: Kenji Shibasaki
Editing: Nobuyuki Takahashi
Scripter: Mikiko Koyama
Assistant Director: Hirofumi Inaba
Production Manager: Yamato Saito
Line Producer: Yoshiyuki Oikawa
Planning & Production: Warner Bros. Pictures Japan / HoriPro Inc. / NTV / YTV / Twins Japan
Production Company: Twins Japan
©2010 “The Incite Mill – 7 Day Death Game -” Film Partners