Quick-Thoughts: Takashi Miike’s The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)

God bless whatever drugs Takashi Miike is on. 

After a deranged stop-motion opening that’ll likely define the cinematic highlight of 2020 at a whisk for me, The Happiness of the Katakuris’ principal narrative commences, and from there on out, becomes even stranger and stranger as the piece unravels. A remote family has initiated a vacational motel business in their adorable abode, however, as guests finally begin to arrive at their service, they discover that this house may be cursed. Despite this, the Katakuris seem committed at almost any cost to not let it destroy their business. Furthermore, though, can the family maintain their cheerfulness throughout heinous terrors? In a busy year where the infamous director has released (no joke) six movies including the popular Ichi the Killer, Miike has once again deconstructed terror through a visually absurd outlook to cynically lighten on the act of transgressing. Yet here, it seems as if he is pivotally doing it to enlighten us with a surreal perspective of our tender reality when it comes to unconditional family priorities. 

Whether it be from the random breakouts into musical numbers that occur during ungentlemanly conditions, the flamboyant set-pieces, or the unforgettable backdrop animations that look like something you’d get if a pothead used Adobe Photoshop, this is truly a merciless motion picture as you may expect coming from the mind of Miike. It’s part sitcom, part horror, part uplifting family drama parody, part sing-a-long, part suspense mystery, part romance, part animation, part whatever the f**k you’d categorize a grandpa hunting crows with blocks of wood as; the unpredictability of The Happiness of the Katakuris is what had me both charmed and traumatized to a ridiculous degree. Awesome! 

The pacing could’ve definitely been MUCH better though. I guess we can’t all be as perfect as Ichi the Killer.

Verdict: B+

“The Happiness of the Katakuris” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

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