The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)
Shlock, camp, horror, karaoke, claymation, zombies, and a family-bands-together-in-adversity storyline produce a strange film from a prolific Japanese director.
The film has enough novelty to be a lot of fun – and many people adore it – but it wasn’t quite right for me. I suspect many of the cultural references and film elements (especially of the original film, and both Korean and Japanese film history) were lost on me. The film didn’t hit my funny bone often enough (although when it did, it was great!), it wasn’t audacious enough, and it didn’t seem to have have much of a message. Oddly the film has many touching moments – not least in haphazard musical numbers that I really enjoyed, and I’m not much of a musical genre fan – and in no way does the silliness or B-ethos horror take away from that. The cast looks like they’re having a lot of fun – and putting a lot of trust in their director.
The film is odd enough it might not be enjoyed by those who enjoyed Takashi Miike’s other successful (and often notorious) endeavors – including 1999’s Audition, 2001’s Ichi the Killer, 2003’s Gozu, and 2010’s 13 Assassians. But for the die-hard fan of the director and those interested in Japanese genre cinema, it’s a must-see.