Director – Takashi Miike
Cast – Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kinimura, Renji Ishibashi, Miyuki Matsuda
Release Year – 1999
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I saw this movie quite a few years back and decided it I should definitely give it another watch to “refresh” my perception of this film. I am very glad I chose to do that. Director Takashi Miike is no stranger to the Japanese horror cinema, and is known as an artistic genius by many horror fans. A director with guts, he leaves no stone unturned with this flick, and makes sure that his viewers remember his film, whether pleasant or unpleasant.
For the most part, this film is not much of a “horror” flick until you get to the very last 20 minutes(estimate) of the movie. For the half of the film this is more of a romantic comedy than anything. I know what you are thinking…”Takashi Miike? ?Romantic comedy???”. Yes, its true, but will tell you this…he did a damn good job at that.
This film begins with a father and his young son experiencing their wife/mother die right before his eyes on a hospital bed. Fast forward years later, and the father is still single and quite lonely. He then decides to accept an offer from a friend to hold an “audition” for a possible wife(pretty sweet idea huh?). He quickly falls for a simple, proper young girl who seems to have everything he is looking for.
Like I said, the first half of this film is much like a romantic comedy. The “auditions” have some pretty funny moments from the more hapless contestants they must weed through. Once out lead meets the lady of his dreams we then witness them courting and spending romantic dates together.(pfft! Romance! Gross…)
Then…we start getting to the good stuff. Right away you get the eerie feeling that this girl is not who she seems to be. She seems quite shady, and you can tell she is just too good to be true. Unfortunately for our lonely father, he does not see through the act she is putting on, and falls even deeper in love with her. We are introduced to some pretty creepy scenes involving her sitting eerily by her telephone waiting for “him to call”. Plus the large bag(with obviously something inside of it) that she keeps on her floor is just plain creepy in it’s own right. After more of her creepiness we are finally at the climax of the film, which is pretty damn awesome! It gets pretty brutal from here on out, which is totally expected given this is a Takashi Miike film. You may not realize he is directing this at first(due to the romantic comedy portrayal), but once the gore and brutality kick in, you remember just who is directing this flick.
I really enjoyed the overall feel of this movie. It went from one genre, to an extremely different genre, which I thought was pretty damn neat and somewhat creative(this film is based on a cook so creativity is limited to the author himself). I did like the creepy feel when we begin to witness who this chick really as, as well as the epic climax to this film that I’m sure Takashi Miike was just licking his lips to.
What I didn’t like about this film was that it does have some really confusing scenes. I know the asian horror cinema really loves adding some mind-numbing scenes to their films. Towards the end we are shown our lead having some “flashbacks” that seem almost real, and unlike other films, we are never really shown if they are real or not! That is my main complaint. I don’t mind confusing scenes as long as they make some sense, but these were never explained. I’m sure Takashi Miike knew the background on the scenes and how to decipher them, but we were never shown, and that is somewhat annoying. My second and last complaint about this film is that it is somewhat slow at parts. I remember checking the time elapsed while watching this film and a full hour had already passed without anything overly exciting happening. But, sometimes we must be introduced to boredom to allow for character and story development.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film and would really like to read the book this is based off of. I think this is definitely worth a watch but keep in mind it does get slow at some parts and is not an out right “horror” flick.
– I ranked this film #32 in my Top 50 Horror Movies of the Decade(31-40) post.