A woman and her daughter-in-law are raped and murdered by samurais during the time of civil war. Afterwards, a series of samurai returning from the war through that area are found mysteriously dead with their throats torn out. The governor calls in a wild and fierce young hero, to quell what is evidently a ghost. He encounters the two beautiful women, in an eerie, beautiful scene. After spiritual purification, he meets the demon in a thrilling fight.Written by
While watching 'Kuroneko,' I must admit I was a little distracted by what were, to me, anyway, stylistic issues: The beautiful black-and-white photography was so vivid and made clear so many little details, in contrast to which the story and the action was delivered in broad, stylized strokes. Something about this didn't work for me - the image, somehow, was too unforgiving on the simply conceived story...not to mention the makeup effects. When a shot of thrillingly real roaring fire at the opening is followed by a shot of the burned bodies, two actresses with, essentially, charcoal rubbed on parts of their arms and legs, and lumpy fake blood spread on their throats...well, it hurt my ability to get into the world of the movie. As did sequences of the plot where the characters' actions didn't follow normal human psychology ("But if he recognized her, wouldn't he say something?") If the image hadn't been so vivid I wouldn't have had to keep thinking of them as actors in a stilted, stylized script. But I did. So sue me. Maybe that's culture clash - maybe the dramatic stylization is direct from the Japanese tradition and would have felt natural in its own way to someone from Japan. Well. I'm not Japanese.
But the important thing here is that, while the movie's horror, while I was watching it, was negligible because of all the above...in the days following, I found myself more and more haunted by some of the truly eerie imagery and the undertones of the plot. To return home, having become a man, and find that your family has turned to demons - demons who might sometimes, partially, still be your family, but will never talk about it...there are shadows of a powerful nightmare in there.
The fight sequence in the rushes, and the slow processions through the bamboo grove, in particular, reverberate in my mind. These scenes, among others, were well supported by the excellent musical score.
I don't know what to make of the last few scenes - the movie had spent itself several times over by that point, though, and in a sense, the exact twists and turns of the plot were only of secondary importance. Watch it for its uniquely eerie atmosphere (and lovely photography), and then enjoy as it slowly settles in to your subconscious.
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