Tuesday, October 27, 2015

House (1977 film)

Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi and screenplay by Chiho Katsura from a story by Chigumi Obayashi, Hausu (House) is the story of a schoolgirl who goes to her ailing aunt’s country home with six schoolmates where they encounter strange and supernatural beings. The film is a surreal yet haunting take on the world of the haunted house as it mixes elements of the absurd and dark humor. Starring Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo, Kumiko Oba, Ai Matubara, Mieko Sato, Eriko Tanaka, Masayo Miyako, and Yoko Minamida. Hausu is an absolutely absurd and extremely fucked-up film from Nobuhiko Obayashi.

The film revolves around a young student who brings her six schoolmates for a trip at the country home of her aunt just before summer vacation is to begin. Yet, something strange goes on at the house where a lot of scary and weird things happen as the girls try to figure out what the hell is going. It’s essentially a haunted house story where a group of young women go there to have fun but things become troubling. Even as the young girl named Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) was the one who suggested in going to her aunt’s house to cope with her father’s news that he just married someone who would become her step-mother. Needing to get away from this sudden news, Gorgeous and her friends visit her aunt (Yoko Minamida) whom she hadn’t seen in years as they’re invited. Once the story progresses, things do get weirder as it goes on as well as some background on why this house is haunted. Since it is a horror film, the film does involve itself in a traditional formula where characters do get killed off one-by-one yet it’s done in very inventive ways.

Nobuhiko Obayashi’s direction is definitely off-the-wall as it doesn’t start out nor does it feel like a horror film at first. Instead, he creates something where it is this world that is completely artificial from the backdrops of skylines, colorful backdrops, and all sorts of things that feels like a Hollywood movie set in Japan. There are also these moments that are very playful where Obayashi doesn’t set things out to create a horror film at first instance which includes homage to silent films, war movies, and all sorts of things which play into the story of Gorgeous’ aunt. Once Gorgeous and her friends arrive at the house, the sense of whimsy still occurs in the film but it would eventually take a darker turn as it moves into areas that are surreal and absurd.

With its usage of close-ups and medium shots as well as some stylish camera angles, Obayashi maintains an intimacy of what is going on yet would create these moments that are scary but has an air of dark humor to it. Notably in the way some of the characters are killed off as well as the involvement of this white cat which Gorgeous found earlier in the film but is unaware of what kind of power the cat has. There is also that sense of mystique in the house itself while the visual effects that Obayashi creates definitely look and feel fake. It doesn’t deter from what it wants to do where it knows it doesn’t look great while it has that odd approach to dark humor which makes it funnier in the way the characters get killed and such. Even in the way it ends where it has this odd idea of innocence that is mixed in with terror. Overall, Obayashi creates an absolutely mind-fuck of a film where a group of girls go to a house unaware that it’s haunted.

Cinematographer Yoshitaka Sakamoto does brilliant work with the film‘s very colorful cinematography with its approach to lighting styles for some of the interior settings in day and night as well as play up some of the artificial elements for some of its exterior scenes. Editor Nobuo Ogawa does amazing work with the editing as it is very stylish with its usage of jump-cuts, slow-motion, frame-speeds, split-screens, and other elements to play up its offbeat approach to humor and horror. Production designer Kazuo Satsuya does excellent work with the look of the haunted house in its many rooms as well as some of the backdrops that just add this warped sense of artificiality to the film.

Sound designer Shohei Hayashi does fantastic work with the sound in creating weird sound effects as well as play into the atmosphere of the house itself. The film’s music by Asei Kobayashi and Mickie Yoshino with performance by Godiego is superb for its mixture of piano-based pieces that includes the film‘s theme which is somber and eerie to very off-kilter pieces that ranges from rock, disco, and folk that Godiego would provide as it would be intense as well as dreamy to play into whatever the film‘s tone is.

The film’s incredible cast includes some notable small roles from Saho Sasazawa as Gorgeous’ father, Ryoko Ema as Gorgeous’ new stepmother, and Kiyohiko Ozaki as a school teacher that was supposed to accompany the girls to the house where he ends up in a series of comical misfortunes. Yoko Minamida is excellent as Gorgeous’ aunt as this old woman who used to be a piano teacher as she lives alone where she invites the girls into her home while being very weird around them. In the roles of the six of seven girls, there’s amazing performances from Masayo Miyako as the clean and helpful Sweet, Eriko Tanaka as the musically-gifted Melody, Mieko Sato as the food-loving Mac, Ai Matubara as the brainy Prof, Miki Jinbo as the athletic and martial-arts fanatic Kung Fu, and Kumiko Oba as the innocent Fantasy. Finally, there’s Kimiko Ikegami in a brilliant performance as Gorgeous as this young woman who is coping with the change in her family life as she goes to her aunt with her friends for a good time only for things to get very weird upon meeting her ailing aunt.

Hausu is a wild and magnificent film from Nobuhiko Obayashi. Armed with a great cast, gorgeous visuals, a compelling premise, and some very odd visual effects. The film is truly unlike anything as it’s not afraid of being ridiculous as well as just being weird for the sake of being weird. In the end, Hausu is a phenomenal film from Nobuhiko Obayashi.

Nobuhiko Obayashi Films: (Furimukeba Ai) - (Exchange Students) - (The Girl Who Lept Through Time) - (Lonely Heart) - (His Motorbike, Her Island) - (The Drifting Classroom) - (The Discarnates) - (Chizuko’s Younger Sister) - (Sada)

© thevoid99 2015


Unknown said...

This movie is 100% bonkers! I saw it about two Halloweens ago, and it's so whacky!

thevoid99 said...

I agree. I had no idea what I was in for and.... it was insane. At times I was like "what the fucking fuck!" There were moments I was scared but then there were moments where I found myself laughing hysterically. I need to get the Criterion DVD for this. It is bonkers and I love it.

Dell said...

When I clicked the link I thought you were doing the also crazy 80s flick starring William Katt. Hadn't heard of this one, but now I must see it. You had me hooked at "absolutely absurd and extremely fucked up."

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-Well, it was exactly what I saw. It's insane. It's not like anything I had ever seen. I would recommend this for anyone that wants to get out of their comfort zone, be scared, and have a laugh. Yes, it is fucking bonkers.

Anonymous said...

You're always doing such interesting things here. I haven't seen these all together, and now that I'm looking at the whole, I feel like I'm seeing things I didn't before. What an interesting lens. Another great piece!

thevoid99 said...

@assholeswatchingmovies.com-Thank you. I would totally recommend this for anyone that wants to see something fucked up in the world of horror. I had a blast watching this.