original title: Hausu
Director: Nobuhiko Öbayashi
Starring: Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo, Kumiko Ohba, Ai Matsubara, Mikeo Sato
Summer is coming up and the young schoolgirl Gorgeous is going on a trip with a few of her six friends Melody, Kung Fu, Prof, Mac, Sweet and Fantasy to her aunt’s house. After arriving at the house they are greeted by the aunt who is sitting in a wheelchair. The young girls start to enjoy themselves by helping out and cooking dinner. Soon however, the girls go missing one by one while the aunt seems to become healthier every time one of them disappears.
Going into this film I was aware that it was strange and a little out of the box, but I had no idea that it was THIS bizarre and weird. House really breaks all the typical boundaries and it feels like a colorful fairytale. In practically every scene there is some strange camerawork or weirdness going on, which makes this into quite a unique little movie. I have no idea what I can compare it to, I guess the only thing would be that it’s like the nightmare of a ten year old japanese girl. Which actually wasn’t far from the truth since director Nobuhiko Öbayashi has said that the idea of the movie did come from his young daughter. Looking back at the film with that in mind, it does make sense since a lot of the scares are made up of things that a young girl would be afraid.
The best part of the movie is how well done everything is. Every scene almost looks like a painting and even though there is all sorts of craziness going on, it does not seem like they threw in weird stuff just for the hell of it. The effects are mostly done very well and effective, except for a few scenes where it does get a little too flashy and overboard even for this movie. The music that is used a lot is some sort of superhappy Beatles inspired pop tunes which does work in the comedic scenes. The opening scenes where Gorgeous talks to her daughter is also very good, filled with a lot of emotions, all shown by the use of the camera and the settings and just shows how good the people behind the camera was on this film.
All the young schoolgirls is named after their personalities. Fantasy is a daydreamer, Kung Fu randomly starts to use karate on stuff and so on. It seems like the point of that is that they are all parts of one young girl who are growing up. I need to see the film several more times if I’m gonna be able to decode the meaning behind all of the madness, if there even is one. If you are after the meaning behind this stuff then I’m sure there are some much smarter reviews out there that have figured it out.
House is a bizarre fairytale that is done with a lot of focus and talent. It’s a unique piece of cinema that is nothing like anything else out there and that alone makes it worth watching. It’s a film that is hard to rate after one watch and I’m sure my thoughts on it will change over the years when I see it again. I did enjoy it though and thought it was both funny, well crafted and original. Watch the trailer first and if that doesn’t seem to weird for you, then see the film.