The Happiness of the Katakuris


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Happiness of the Katakuris

Japanese movies are not renowned for eccentricity. It doesn't come with the territory.

The Happiness Of The Katakuris is completely barking and, for the first half, dazzles with ingenuity. During the second, however, it runs out of ideas and starts to look silly.

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The film defies genre specification. To cast it into the pit of doom, where other horror flicks reside, would be a mistake. To hang it up to dry, with camp pastiches of The Sound Of Music, would deny its originality. To tickle its ribs under a clown's duvet would deny the black humour. People die in terrible ways, it's true, but others burst into song.

The Katakuris - granddad, mum, dad, son, daughter, little 'un and dog - move into a country house hotel, way out in the wilderness, where passing trade happens twice a month, if at all, in the belief that a brand new road is going to be built, which never materialises. Their only guests commit suicide, or die, and rather than report such events to the authorities, they bury the bodies down by the lake.

This is not a murder mystery, so much as a death by misadventure mystery. Are they cursed, or simply unlucky? Granddad is pragmatic, the first to the shovels. Dad is romantic and sentimental. Mum's best when she's dancing. The son is a difficult teenager and the daughter has a passion for love. The little 'un observes and makes wise comments. The dog barks.

There is no tension, as you would expect from a thriller, because whenever bad things happen, someone runs into a field to sing a song, followed by the others. It's so Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, only loopier. Another fun item is the use of macabre claymation models, which appear every now and again, to scarify sleepyheads.

Does it makes sense? Of course not. Does that matter? Not in the slightest.

Reviewed on: 15 May 2003
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Running a guest house proves deathly for a family. Just as well they know a few good songs.
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Read more The Happiness of the Katakuris reviews:

Jennie Kermode ****
Keith Hennessey Brown **1/2

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kikumi Yamagishi

Starring: Kiyoshiro Imawano, Keiko Matsuzaka, Naomi Nishida, Kenji Sawada, Shinji Takeda, Naoto Takenaka, Tetsuro Tamba

Year: 2001

Runtime: 113 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Japan

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