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Year: 2001
UK: Metro Tartan Distribution
Cast: Kenji Sawada, Keiko Matsuzaka, Shinji Takeda, Naomi Nishida, Tetsuro Tamba, Naoto Takenaka, Kiyoshiro Imawano, Moeko Ezawa, Naoto Takenaka, Tamaki Miyazaki, Takashi Matsuzaki, Yoshiki Arizono Chihiro Asakawa, Moeko Ezawa, Akiko Hatakeyama, Yumeki Kanazawa, Maro Aya Meguro, Yuka Nakatani, Miho Sawada, Tokitoshi Shiota
Director: Miike Takashi
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese (English subtitles)
UK: 113 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains moderate horror and sex
UK Release Date: 16 May 2003


Miike Takashi's THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS is a quirky, black comedy. Think SHALLOW GRAVE meets THE SOUND OF MUSIC - and now imagine it with songs, dance numbers and animated sequences. There hasn't been anything like this before on film.

Loosely based on the Korean black comedy movie QUIET FAMILY, this extraordinary genre-blending remake tells the story of a modern dysfunctional family and their shared dream of opening a guesthouse in the country. Despite all their best efforts, the guesthouse has the unfortunate habit of attracting guests who all turn up dead in the morning. The Katakuris, just regular folks, do their utmost to make a success of the place despite all these setbacks -- and audiences will be rooting for them to succeed even as they keep planting stiffs out in the grove behind the house.

For despite its bizarre horror-movie story line, the movie is an uplifting tale of ordinary people battling against the odds. The Katakuris don't kill any of their guests (well, not intentionally). They're just normal people trying to get by, even as fate throws more and more dead bodies at them. Because at the end of the day, nothing kills business at a hotel quicker than rumours of a death in a room... especially if it's the very first guest who ever stayed there.

In tune with its quirky story, the film mixes movie genres and styles with abandon. Some sequences are filmed using claymation. As in a musical, the characters suddenly burst into song, or spontaneously start dancing as the mood takes them. There's even an incredible subplot with a Japanese conman who claims to be the bastard son of Queen Elizabeth of England (even more incredibly, this character is based on a real person). The climax features a bizarre "Singing in the Rain" style dance routine, where even the corpses get up from their graves to join in the splashy hoofing. The soundtrack is packed with perky, up-tempo numbers that will have viewers singing along.

THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS is directed by Miike Takashi who is one of several Japanese directors receiving international acclaim at the moment. Miike made his name with movies as diverse as AUDITION (2000) DEAD OR ALIVE (2000) CITY OF LOST SOULS (2000) ITCHI THE KILLER (2001).

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