Just the other day I was watching "The Locker" (and "The Locker II" on the same tape) and I was feeling old. Old cause it felt like a certain golden period of Japanese cinema seems to have passed by. Nothing wrong with the lockers, they were basic J-horror movies ala "The Grudge," template. There was nothing really right with them either though. They were bland, and the one thing I had never really associated with japanese cinema was blandness.
Which brings me to "House," or "Hausu," a japanese film that was made in 1977 and has been enjoying a bit of rediscovery this year. Reviewers have been tongued tied after seeing it, generally saying to effect "Don't ask me about it, go see it. Grab your loved ones, and strangers on the street and GO. SEE. IT!"
It's understandable really. Trying to describe the plot of this film would make it sound boring. Try to describe any scene from this film and people might enquire upon your choices of drugs. So let me try to walk this type of tightrope. "House," is something of either a darkly funny or brightly dark fairy tale. You have Gorgeous and her friends who share a similiar name scheme like "Fantasy" or "Prof," and they all go to Gorgeous strange spooky aunt's house in the middle of nowhere. Bad things happen. Trippy things happen. Bad, trippy things happen. The end. Now shut up and go see the movie yourself!
Wait, that's not fair, let me give a little more. On the DVD, one observer points out that the director, Nobuhiko Obayashi, literally uses every trick in the book. It's true. There is animation, there is painted sets, there is fast forwarding and rewinding of film, and there is every type of dissolve. None of these would make any sense if you were to write down what happens in the film, but when taken as a whole... well it still doesn't make sense but it doesn't matter. It overwhelmes, it breaks down your defenses. It leaves you practically breathless and begging for more.
Ladies and gentlemen, my wonderful readers, this is what Japanese cinema is to me at its finest. I may not understand it, but it enthralls me.
Now go watch this yourself!!