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A pioneer of a man convinces his family to take advantage of news of a road soon to be built through an area of the country that can be had for next to nothing. He, his aging, but wise father, his loving and loyal wife, along with a slow-to-persuade son and a divorced daughter with toddler in hand who also happens to be the narrator, bravely move out to this new space and open a bed and breakfast. They make the place everything anyone could want, as they have so much time to work on it, since no one is making reservations to stay there. Eventually, the customers come...but each one dies while in their room and the family is trying to get rid of the evidence a.s.a.p so as not to ruin their reputation before they even get up and running. One thing leads to another and the bodies have to be moved.Written by
Natalie D. Roberts "sonta_en"
When you think about Japanese cinema, what comes to your mind? I'm sure it's movies like Audition, Ichi the Killer, et cetera. Nine times out of ten, you'd guess it's a horror movies, but nine times out of ten you wouldn't guess a comedy. Even less, you'd say a musical. But if you combine all three, you get The Happiness of the Katakuris, a crazy hybrid (directed, ironically, by the guy who directed the aforementioned Audition) of the three. Actually, four, since I just remembered about the animation. This four-genre film is far from perfect, but it's pretty damn good for the combination of the genres.
The Katakuri clan owns a guest house on Mt. Fuji, because they hear a road will be built leading up to the house, therefore, much business. However, the road hasn't been built yet, the Katakuris haven't had a single guest, and Shizue (Naomi Nishida) is recently divorced. Soon, however, she finds Richard Sagawa (Kiyoshiro Imawano), and they fall in love. But is everything what it seems? And once the first guest comes, he mysteriously dies (Murder? Suicide? the song-complete with smoke and blue lights-asks). Soon more guests come, they all die, and the Katakuris have to bond together to figure out a solution to this problem.
The movie starts off with a couple minutes of claymation that serves as an odd transition to the actual story. I guess it was a pretty low-budget movie, because for two other "action-packed" scenes, claymation is also used. It works well in the context of the story, but a little unexpected, too. It's not jarring or anything, and the clay characters look like the real ones (as much as possible), so that's good. Some of the humor comes from the obvious (when the father is swinging on a swing he claims to safe, it breaks), some from the absurd (a man singing in a music video in drag, obviously, that everyone thinks is a woman), and some comes from the quirkiness of the musical numbers, like that aforementioned one. There's also a delirious ballad, some slow songs, and some joyous ones. There's even a sing-along. There're some lulls in between songs, as expected in all musicals, but you'd be surprised how much reading subtitles doesn't distract you from the songs. It's just like reading subtitles throughout a film. It is a bit weird during the sing-along, though.
It's not really a "true" horror, although there's a few gruesome images, and the themes are quite dark. They're presented humorously, though, and that's all that counts. Taken apart, each lacks. The comedy's not hilarious, the horror's not scary, the animation's just random, and the musical numbers, except for a few, aren't really memorable. But I still think you should see it. I'll bet that you've never seen anything like it before, and you probably never will until Hollywood remakes it.
My rating: 7/10
Rated R for violent images and some sexual content.
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