A new year happens tomorrow. So, why not kick off 2016 with something completely offbeat? Especially if you’re nursing a hangover and are missing that completely drunk feeling. This one is a rental, but really, even if it takes you some time to get to it, it’s so strange that you’ll want to watch it at some point. Here we go: five reasons to watch The Happiness of the Katakuris.
|The tagline is strangely accurate.
With Miike, you get what you pay for. You want extreme gore? You’re going to get it, often with a heaping side of “I don’t want to look at another human being for six weeks.” Thanks a lot for Audition, buddy. Is homoerotic spiritual journey more your thing? He’s got you covered with the lovely Big Bang Love: Juvenile A. Yakuza stories are what you crave? Have some Ichi the Killer. But what happens when you go in for a horror/comedy/musical? I’m happy to report that Miike-san doesn’t disappoint. The man can never be accused of doing anything half-assed, and this genre-bending offering is no exception. If you dig Miike’s total commitment to a strange fairy tale, you’re going to get it.
Of all things in the tenure of this blog, I really did not think I’d be sitting here typing the words “Miike” and “musical” in the same sentence, yet here we are. Never say never, folks. And let me tell you, those musical numbers are fucking weird. I’ve never gotten the whole style of musicals – most of the time, it’s a bunch of 30-year-olds pretending to be 16, bursting into song and dance, and everyone knows all of the words and the steps. For someone with two left feet and a singing voice that could use some formal lessons, this is completely alien to me (and yes, I mean that in the sense of both being foreign and horrifying in terms of fear that one of them will go all face hugger on me and I’ll birth a chest-burster). This one, though… you’ll be staring too hard to really have it fully register that you’re watching a musical. It’s the equivalent of someone finally getting me to eat my peas. Eat your heart out, Von Trapp family.
|Don’t mind me, I just passed out from the whole what-the-fuck factor.
#3 – It’s got mayhem
The running joke of this one is that all of the hotel guests die in some madcap way. Bad for the Katakuris’ business, but good for us. Some of the deaths are horrifying; others are a bit more humorous. It manages to become simultaneously funny, horrifying and surreal. Not only do you get to see the deaths of the guests, you also get the panicked aftermath with body disposal and fear, which I think extends into the mayhem label as well. I liked that it included multiple facets of the terrified experience, because it doesn’t stop at the deaths. Sometimes, mayhem is a state comprised of events, not just an event in and of itself.
Like I said before, this is a horror/comedy/musical. To be honest, my best friend recommended this one to me, and I watched it a few years ago. I texted her halfway through to let her know that I was watching it. You know what response I got? “BUWAHAHAHAHAH!” About a quarter of the way through, I found myself whispering, “What the fuck did she have me watch?” I loved that she took sheer delight in just how badly it broke my brain. Really, I think I gave myself a wrinkle from raising one eyebrow for almost two hours straight. It is one of the stranger things you’ll watch. It’s up there with Funky Forest, though this one had a better budget and a more coherent writing team. The WTF Factor is high with this one.
Claymation sounds like a lot of work on paper. In practice, it’s a even more work. Some people proclaim that it looks lazy and cheesy, but there’s a great amount of patience and skill that gets poured into the process. I would not have the patience to try to do it; I would be slamming things around in frustration within an hour. So when a director decides to include Claymation in a film, I give at least a little bit of respect, because that’s a ton of work. This one has Claymation in it, and while it’s not the entirety of the film, it works to both contribute to the WTF Factor as well as demonstrate a sense of artistry. Of which Miike has in spades.