Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5  
The Happiness of the Katakuris (Katakuri-ke no Kôfuku) (2003)
15

"My uvula!" shouts someone at the beginning of Takashi Miike's horror musical. Hardly the most obvious line of dialogue to start a movie with... but then, how many films begin with a scene where a clay creature crawls out of a soup bowl and starts tugging on a woman's tonsils? As weird movie openings go, this one's in a class of its own.

The rest of Miike's musical extravaganza isn't exactly your usual collection of song and dance numbers either. Straying so far off the beaten track, it needs a search and rescue helicopter to airlift it back to normality, this is one bizarre tale.

Fed up with life in Tokyo, the Katakuri family retire to Mount Fuji to open a guesthouse. Instead of the idyllic Asian retelling of "The Sound of Music" they were hoping for, the Katakuris are trapped (or should that be Von Trapped?) by a curse that kills off each of their much-needed guests.

After the first visitor stabs himself in the neck with his room key, Masao Katakuri (Kenji Sawada) decides to take matters into his own hands and buries the corpse in the nearby woods.

The next visitor, an enormous sumo wrestler, pops his clogs while on the job, suffocating his petite girlfriend underneath him. And after he's buried in the woods, things go from bad to bonkers.

Throw in a dog, a cute kid, a fraudster who claims to be a Japanese nephew of Queen Elizabeth, and plenty of karaoke songs, and you end up with the sort of musical Andrew Lloyd Webber might write after taking some serious narcotics.

Destined to divide audiences into those who adore it and those who just don't get the joke, this is proof that Miike is one of the most consistently delirious filmmakers of the 21st century.

In Japanese with English subtitles.

End Credits

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kikumi Yamagishi

Stars: Kenji Sawada, Naomi Nishida, Keiko Matsuzaka, Shinji Takeda, Tetsuro Tanba

Genre: Comedy, Horror, Musical, World Cinema

Length: 112 minutes

Cinema: 16 May 2003

Country: Japan

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