Katakuri-ke no kôfuku

Synopsis: The Katakuris are a four-generation family of failures (grandfather, father and mother, children and granddaughter, who narrates the film) who use the father’s redundancy pay to buy a guest house in the country. Somehow, each of their guests ends up dead – by suicide, accident or murder – and once they have made the decision to save their business by burying the bodies and concealing the deaths, they find themselves sucked into a nightmare of lies and fear. None of this is helped by the arrival of the daughter’s con-man boyfriend, an escaped murderer with police in hot pursuit, and an erupting volcano. Filled with surreal musical numbers, disturbed animated characters, killer zombies and an array of gruesome deaths, this delirious black comedy has to be seen to be believed!

Katakuri-ke no kôfuku 6.0

I’m not a huge fan of Takashi Miike. While the über-prolific filmmaker has made some memorable films, they usually are simply due to their shock value – here is a director who frequently pushes the limits well beyond the comfort level of the average filmgoer. Even myself (word to the wise).

I’ve seen a few of his films and simply decided to tune him out until something critically resplendent with unavoidable goodness comes along. Then I saw the trailer for the film ‘The Happiness of the Katakuris’. It was all over the map: it had action, horror, musical numbers and humour all wrapped up into a Japanese cinematic pot-pourri. Well, call me curious, but I just had to give it a shot.

Sadly, I was disappointed with the end result. Sure, it had all of the above elements, but the ingredients were all pretty stale – so the final mix was not nearly as fresh as I would have hoped for; it was just less boring by virtue of the variety of staleness on display. Ho-hum.

Bottom line: the acting, as it often is in Miike’s super low budget films, was uneven, the production was cheap-looking, the pacing was a little slow and the story was fairly uneventful. I mean, it’s not all bad, but it’s not even worthy of getting an “it’s so bad it’s good” accreditation or brownie points for uniqueness.

I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen better. And the Katakuris left me feeling more ambivalent than happy.

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