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Manuel de Layet [Celluloid 09.12.14] Japan horror



Over Your Dead Body is Miike’s version of Yotsuya Kaidan. This alone is enough to warrant anyone with a passing interest in the fantastic to see it.

This is a special one. I cannot for the death of me talk about how the story develops because it's as complex as a ball of yarn left unattended in a room full of kittens, and I was in such awe at the flawless execution during the entire movie that I didn't pay much attention to what was happening anyway. Consider seeing this one not as movie but as a masterclass on cinema.


First there is an incredible narrative recursion: there is the play as a physical object, then the people rehearsing the play, then the people watching the people rehearsing the play, all this amounting beyond the fourth wall to the audience in the theatre watching the people on screen watching the people on stage...

And this is just the beginning of the mindfuck.

To further mess with our perception of reality, the shots are captured in the manner of a Rubik's cube. When the decor rotates the camera is fixed, when the camera rotates, the decor is fixed. Until all the colored squares are in place and the picture emerges, layers and layers of conflicting realities are gradually woven into one another, blurring our perception of continuity to the point we forget it's not a period-drama and wonder about the presence of computers in the background.

While managing to project his own identity and vision of movie-making unto the original material and the form he chose, Miike nevertheless respects the landmarks associated with the original material, this of course means that the most usual trope ever is used: the characters and events in the play take over the actors' lives.

But at this level, it's like hearing the Queen of the night aria done by your local community college soprano, and hearing it sung by Simone Kermes. Same score, different result.

This is a master at work, the rhythm, camera angles, lighting, costumes, everything down to the minute detail feels hammered on the anvil of control. A near perfect exercise in style. Shibumi, if that concept can be applied to celluloid nightmares.

Everything is done to override reality and replace it with the play setting; the lush, breathtaking rotating stage, which in its flamboyance contrasts starkly with the rundown building housing it, is surely the best example amongst a whole constellation.

Miike can be a tough director to appreciate, some of his experimentations were completely lost on me (Yatterman and Ai to Makoto are the main culprits here…) but this one is a real joy to behold.

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Koolz (7 years ago) Reply

I must see it and your Mozart Magic Flute Reference only makes me want to see it more!!!!!!!!!
Miike is one of the Great Directors.


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