The Happiness of the Katakuris

Mike like Miike
Guest Review by Mike Flores

The film is about a dysfunctional Japanese family trying to pull itself together by running a bed and breakfast in the hills, far from anyone. A cross between The Sound Of Music and a gory zombie movie this is one brilliant little horror film. The dad, played by Kenji Sawada has lost his job and heard that a highway is planned to run by a house he wants to convert into a B&B. Well, there is no sign of the road coming but occasional patrons do mange to make it- and die. The family decides to dispose of the bodies rather than risk discovery — which they do while singing songs about love, life and happiness.

This film isn’t just good, it is insanely great!

The grandfather is played by Tetsuro Tamba and is shown garbed in a World War 2 uniform in one song. The Japanese have not made a film on their role in World War 2 comparable to the Germans (Stalingrad, Das Boot) and don’t talk much about their role in the war. The film has resonance because the family secret could just as well be the grandfather’s role in the war. The family believes all the slogans of Japan- hard work, stick together, achieve your goals – but they also all share a secret. In this case, the dead bodies they must bury on the grounds.

Japanese thinking is not the only thing parodied here. The Asian obsession with karaoke is satirized, the teen cliché of the misunderstood kid who saves his family by dying for it and proving himself is mocked, musicals in general are taken to task. This sounds weird, but this is a happy family musical with loads of gore, dancing dead bodies, fascinating use of claymation all adding up to the most inventive horror film I have seen since, well, Bubba-Ho-Tep. And that is saying something.

Director Takeshi Miike has created a disturbing and oddly joyous movie. It is like nothing you have seen before. Run, do not walk, to see The Happiness of the Katakuris. Better yet Рdrag your friends to the party. They will be blown away by this one!

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