4444444444 is a Japanese short horror film written and directed by Takashi Shimizu, released in 1998 as part of Gakkô no Kaidan G. In 4444444444, a young man receives a haunting phone call from a mysterious ghostly boy.
A young man rides his bicycle, presumably home. As he rounds a corner in front of an apparently abandoned building, he begins to hear a cell phone ringing, though he cannot see it. He hunts through a garbage pile next to the darkened entrance to the building, finding the phone after several rings. Upon closer examination, the phone is displaying an incoming call from the number 4444444444. The man answers the phone to hear rasping, cat-like sounds issue from the earpiece. After unsuccessfully attempting to communicate with the unknown caller, he hangs up.
Seconds later, the phone rings again, and again he answers. The man is getting frustrated at this point, and begins to look a little worried, as though someone might be playing a joke on him. As he sits on the steps in front of the deserted building, he continues to try to identify the caller. Looking around nervously, he asks, "Are you... Watching me?" Suddenly, a voice replies, "I am," though it does not come from the phone. The man turns slowly to see a pale boy beside him, drumming white fingers on his knees. The man looks startled, and the camera lingers on the ghostly child for a moment before zooming in quickly while he opens his mouth in a cat-like scream as a black substance drips from it.
- Kazushi Andô
- Daiki Sawada
- The ghostly boy's background is given in Ju-on: The Curse.
- The youngster's name (Tsuyoshi) and his background are also revealed in The Curse.
- Cursed, Tsuyoshi's girlfriend Mizuho finds his bycicle and the cellphone at their school. She looks for him after his disappearance and falls victim of the same omenous 4444444444 call.
Takashi Shimizu first became involved with the Ju-on saga when writer and director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who was teaching a filmmaking class that Shimizu, then working as an assistant director, attended, was impressed by a three-minute short film Shimizu had written and directed.
When Kurosawa learned that a producer he knew had just commissioned a feature length horror film for Kansai Telecasting Corporation, he recommended Shimizu for the job of directing one or more sections of the film. To complete this task, Shimizu wrote several scripts, each roughly thirty minutes in length, only to be asked to make two brief three minute segments (Katasumi and 4444444444), as the television movie was intended to be an anthology of short films. After being edited together, the collection of four shorts (one of which was helmed by Kurosawa) was titled Gakkô no kaidan G, which roughly translates to School Ghost Story G ("G" supposedly standing for "Great"). It was first broadcast on Kansai TV on September 27, 1998, and ran for around 70 minutes, meaning that Shimizu contributed to just under 10 percent of the finished product.
While it is often mistakenly claimed that the subsequent feature length video films Ju-on: The Curse and Ju-on: The Curse 2 are remakes of Katasumi and 4444444444, the two segments "are actually the foundations of Ju-on", according to Shimizu, and act "almost like the true prequel of the story." Katasumi, in particular, is notable for marking the first appearance of actress Takako Fuji (at this point anonymous) as Kayako Saeki, a role that she would reprise for every Ju-on and The Grudge related production thereafter, up to The Grudge 2.
Notes and triviaEdit
- The short, alongside Katasumi is featured in the Unrated Extended Director's Cut of The Grudge.
- In The Curse, Tsuyoshi is seen leaving his house with a different clothing and hair style.
- The numeral "4" is symbolic of bad luck in many Asian cultures, a phenomenon that is known as tetraphobia. In Japanese, as 四 it is assonant to Shi (死), which means "death".
- Tsuyoshi is one of the first victims of the curse to be seen on screen.
- Daiki Sawada is the first young actor to portray Toshio's ghost.