Wednesday, March 2, 2011

House AKA Hausu - English Language Review

House AKA Hausu
(Japan, 1977)

Directed by: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Starring: Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo and Kumiko Ôba

Rating: 3/5

"House" is clearly one of the craziest movies I've ever seen. The plot involves a group of seven teenage girls  (each of them having a humorous nickname) vacationing at one of their aunt's house in the country. Naturally, the house is haunted, there's an evil white cat, the aunt is not who she claims to be (well, not anymore) and the girls will fall prey to the evil spirits one by one.

The visuals in "House" are amazing. Inspired by visions of nightmares, Ôbayashi creates a unique style. He uses a wide array of special effects and editing techniques (including slow-motion, freeze-frame, split-screens etc.) to create a world of raw, unrealistic visual "happenings" (calling them simply visual effects would be an understatement). The result is creepy, sometimes scary, often very funny and each scene has a different set-up and different effects. The highlights include one of the girls being attacked by a group of mattresses (yes, mattresses!), another one having her fingers chopped off by the piano lid, a third one's body disappearing while immersed in a pool of blood and probably the best known scene in the movie, which involves a talking head being pulled out of a well.

"House" is all shock-value. Beyond that, there is not much else to look at. The plot is very thin (even though it recalls the horrors of war), there are many digressions and a lot of pop songs on the soundtrack and the acting is not very good either. The final product of Ôbayashi wild imagination is a kitsch, but one that is entertaining and inspiring as far as the visuals go and, as a pure, cinematic experience, it is unique.

(Enjoy some more of the craziness)

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