The Happiness Of The Katakuris (2002) (film on Blu-ray/DVD review).

July 22, 2015 | By | Reply More

‘The Happiness Of The Katakuris’ is one of the most stupid and idiotic films you will ever see, surreal, baffling and mindbending, yet it is oddly catching in a strange sort of way. Coming from Japan and directed by Tashiki Miike, it tells the tale in glorious colour of four generations of an unfortunate family trying to make their way in life. They open a guesthouse in the mountains in a set very similar to ‘The Sound Of Music’ but in the distance there is an ominous smoking volcano. You just know it’s going to blow its top. Likewise, the movie blows its top in a most spectacular way.

HappinessOfThe KatakurisBluray

There’s lots of strange animations, morph-like bizarre creatures, fighting against fate, being defeated in the process, much like the Katakuris family itself. Similarly, in the guesthouse from the very start, nothing seems to go right. After waiting a very long time for a guest to arrive, he commits suicide. With the embarrassing situation of the body in the house, they decide to dispose of it. Likewise, another sequence of guests depart the world by accident, by murder or by various other means. Again, the bodies are disposed. All the time, the smoking volcano continues.

There are musical numbers very similar to the aforementioned ‘The Sound Of Music’, there are zombies that remind you of ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ and there is a lot of zany fooling about, so much so that it becomes a bit tiring. There’s only so much nonsense you can take. Despite being so farcical, it is a bit predictable.

The discs comes with tons of extras including a commentary by the director and another one by the director’s biographer. Additionally, you will find many items on the director himself, namely interviews, a visual essay and something on the making of the movie. If you are interested in animation, there is a feature on that as well. Plenty to get your teeth into.

One disappointment was the subtitling, which seemed a bit small and indistinct, at least on the review copy, and with characters speaking so quickly in Japanese, it was difficult to read fast enough before they changed to the next sentence. Otherwise, the quality of the presentation is excellent and the directing and acting is well focused and professional. Not a cheap production by any means, it’s quite evident that here we have a modern movie produced by people who know what they are doing.

This isn’t Science Fiction and it’s not really fantasy. It is difficult to tell what it is and it is so different and unusual, especially for people living outside of Japan and Japanese culture, that it kind of takes you by surprise. While I found it refreshingly different, I’ve got to say that the continual bombardment of silliness became a bit overpowering by the end. The plot was, after all, a bit pointless. Maybe I was being miserable, not joining into the fun and no doubt there would be loads of laughter from people more attuned to this sort of thing. It’s a film some people will really like! It is so zany and probably so unique that it has just got to be recommended.

Rod MacDonald

July 2015

(region A/1: pub: Arrow Films. 2 dual format DVD Blu-ray disks 113 minute film with extras. Price: $ (US), £14.99 (UK). ASIN: B00TOT0BXY)

cast: Kenji Sawada, Keiko Matsuzaka and Shinji Takeda

Language: Japanese

Sub-titles: English

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Category: Films, Horror

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