Temple follows a trio of Americans in search of -- you guessed it -- a temple deep in the secluded mountains of Japan. Guided by a book and a mysterious child, the group discover that the abandoned temple houses some malevolent spirits dead set on their doom.
I tend to have an appreciation for culture/language-melding movies that have an even amount of dialogue presented through its represented cultures/races. In this case we have English and Japanese spoken throughout the film fairly evenly. It adds to the realism of the scenario that not everyone happens to magically speak the necessary language for the viewer. I respect the extra attention it takes to produce such a film.
Along with that, this film has a blend of American and Japanese horror concepts. It uses traditional American 20-somethings for fodder to mysterious beings that follow similar Japanese horror traditions. The storytelling isn't necessarily new, but it is used to decent effect. The story is told essentially through the memory of the surviving member of the trio as he is interrogated by detectives. The film occasionally cuts back to the interrogation, but spends most of its time following the three as they travel to the temple.
Unfortunately, too much of the film is the traveling portion of the tale. They spend far too much time getting to the temple than actually spending time there. The exploration of the temple is relatively limited, with little gained from their brief time there before chaos ensues. The slow burn of their abstract experiences with spirits before their trip to the temple aren't quite enough to retain interest. Some visuals are intriguing, but they are so scarce and uninspired to the plot that they are easily dismissed.
The temple itself simply isn't explored enough. We don't get much of the what or how of it, and it hurts the finished product of the film. I'm okay with questions floating in the air, but this film almost seemed to try and "solve" some of its own riddles only to then create new gaping holes in the plot.
The spirits could hardly even be considered secondary in the final act, at least as far as onscreen presence. The treatment of what we witness as viewers is so disjointed that I don't have time to build dread for any particular scene. When I feel like I'm starting to get involved in the character's dilemma, I'm removed to another character for an inordinate amount of time. The yarn of the story unravels with each consecutive act, and nothing comes together the way it should, in my opinion.
Something that had a lot of promise to be a film of originality couldn't escape a fatal combination of confusion and blandness. I didn't have a hard time sitting through it, but it wasn't something I had any interest in watching again.
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 4/10
Film Quality: 4/10