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A star, Miyuki Goto (Ko Shibasaki) plays Oiwa, the protagonist in a new play based on the ghost story Yotsuya Kaidan. She pulls some strings to get her lover, Kosuke Hasegawa (Ebizo Ichikawa) cast in the play, even though he's a relatively unknown actor. Other performers Rio Asahina (Miho Nakanishi) and Jun Suzuki (Hideaki Ito) lust after Miyuki. Off stage the cast's possessive love and obsessions exist as reality. Trapped between the play and reality, the cast's feelings for each other are amplified. When it becomes clear that love is not meant to be both on and off stage, love turns into a grudge and crosses the blurred line between reality and fantasy.Written by
Toronto International Film Festival
Dark, Sexy, Violent and Depressing, Over Your Dead Body, will Forever Change your Opinion of the Theatre
Kousuke Hasegawa (Ebizo Ichikawa) is an actor, cast to portray Iemon Tamiya in the stage play, Makato Yotsuya Kaidan. Those familiar with the Japanese horror film Kaidan, will potentially notice similarities between that feature, and the play taking place in Over Your Dead Body. Though Hasegawa's attitude potentially undermines why he was selected, one cannot deny his talents, not to mention the similarities he shares with Iemon. Both individuals are men who are largely uncommunicative and emotionally impotent, possessing strong, lustful urges. Moreover, they are as greedy as they are ambitious, and yet, continuously find their appetite for happiness unfulfilled.
Actress Miyuki Goto (Kou Shibasaki), is Hasegawa's lover on and off the stage, portraying the character Oiwa, Iemon's wife, during the production. The sterile environment she and Hasegawa reside in, not to mention the metaphorical representation of the pet fish, illustrate the lacking emotion during their relationship, which is purely physical. Though Hasegawa is unable to control his urges, and begins an affair with a younger actress involved in the production (Hitomi Katayama), while conveying interest in Goto's disabled assistant (Nakanishi Miho), who idolises the actress she works for, Goto herself, who is continuously the subject of married actor Jun Suzuki's (Ito Hideaki) advances, is a woman of fidelity.
This striking contrast is also apparent in the film's representation of happiness, and the many avenues that lead towards its fulfillment, the behavior and dialogue between the characters indicating that the idea of happiness, and what happiness truly is, are two very different things. Furthermore, though the film contains sex scenes, these are very tame in contrast with the tonality of the feature, yet still sensually invigorate the film.
The first half of the feature seems positively normal by director Takashi Miike's standards, the second half descending into madness. As similarities between the stage play and reality begin to overlap, certain characters become so obsessed with their roles, they begin to mimic them, as reality and fantasy supernaturally merge, resulting in a surprise ending. Perhaps because I am accustomed to the work of Mr. Miike, or potentially due to the sheer number of horror films I have seen, Over Your Dead Body, neither scared nor shocked me. That being said, there were more than a couple of scenes, where I was disturbed by the content, which was not only uniquely unpredictable, but grotesque to watch.
Much of the film is set in darkness, from the set of the play, to the residents of the performers, and though there are scenes that occur under the light of day, these are especially minimal. The use of panning, often to circle characters or events, alongside long cuts, captivates our interest, and assists in holding us in suspense, while the musical score excellently contributes to the thematic elements and story-line. Furthermore, the obscene amount of blood during later scenes, amplifies the poignant characters and depressing atmosphere.
The idea of reality and fiction intertwining is something that has been done before, and though the conclusion is indeed unpredictable, this too has been used previously. Over Your Dead Body is a film that doesn't necessarily offer viewers a lot of 'new' content, and despite the end culminating in a satisfactory finish, it feels incomplete, as though more could have been added. That being said, though this is not a typically scary film, Over Your Dead Body will sensually appease viewers in one scene, and make their skin crawl in the next, resulting in a feature that will make sure you never look at the theatre the same way again.
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