Monday, October 12, 2009

カタクリ家の幸福 or Katakuri-ke no koufuku or The Happiness of the Katakuris (Review)

     Oh, where to begin.  I suppose I must thank Zach for recommending this one to me.  I am slowly learning that, just like monkey paw wishes, your movie recommendations come with a price.  The price of this one seems to be a small piece of my sanity.  For nearly two hours, I couldn't tell if I was in reality or a bad episode of The Twilight Zone.

     Imagine, if you will, a Japanese, horror, musical, comedy, where a family has terrible luck, must keep hiding dead bodies, and spontaneously breaks out in choreographed song and dance numbers, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.  (My brain is crying.)

     The Happiness of the Katakuris, brought to you by director Takashi Miike, who you might remember from Audition, the longest setup ever for the most disturbing thirty minutes of film ever made, is an indescribably insane film.  It's about a family, four generations, living in a quaint, mountain bead and breakfast/boarding house, who seem to be cursed by this little, clay-mation cherub/demon thing.  Bad luck follows as guest after guest dies, and the family buries the bodies on the mountain side in order to avoid word getting out and ruining their already almost non existent business, plus song and dance numbers...?  All of this wrapped up in the moral: "That's Life," meaning, good and bad comes in life, and you just have to keep going, even after you bury four dead bodies in your back yard.  (Really?)

     There isn't any gore in this movie.  Some dead bodies, sometimes dancing, but nothing really disgusting. (except maybe the dead sumo wrestler's naked butt)  I assume that a lot of the dance numbers are spoofs, making this a kind of dark comedy in Japan.  I don't know that much about Japanese cinema or pop culture, so, to me, it was just really, really odd and disturbing. Oh, and did I mention that anywhere where there might be special effects, they substitute in clay-mation? (Just in case your brain thought it had a handle on things.) 

     If you like odd movie experiences, or your mind is, shall we say, in an altered state, you might just enjoy this truly strange bit of Japanese cinema, if not, then I might recommend skipping it.  Watching it sober might just drive you to drink, if only to forget.

     Thanks, Zach.


  1. haha I'm sorry Takashi Miike has claimed yet another victim with this one. Personally I thought this movie was funny, but just too weird to be really enjoyable. I found out recently that it's actually a remake of a Korean movie called "The Quiet Family" that I hope to see soon. I'm pretty sure that version nixes the dance numbers, but I'm not sure about the claymation!

  2. Thanks Alex. I'll have to check that one out. As for Takashi Miike, he always seems to bring something unique to the table and I am always fascinated by what he makes. I'm sure that The Katakuris makes more sense to people who know Japanese culture, but definitely not to me. I think I needed friends and beer for this one. :)