Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Yűki Amami, Atsuro Watabe, Eugene Harada, Shiho Fujimura, Kazuhiro Yamaji
Director: Masato Harada
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
The Bonomiya family?s women are the protectors of the Inugami (evil spirits). If the Bonomiya women fail to keep watch over the spirits ? or worse, if they decide to use them for revenge ? then the Inugami will run wild in... more »
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Dark fantasy drama...but not horror
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 12/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Masato Harada shows his versatility here--after the solid Yakuza-based thriller drama Kamikaze Taxi--with this intriguing film that integrates elements of dark fantasy and family dysfunction. A fortyish woman in a small Japanese village, who's come back home after living for a long time in Tokyo, is a solitary paper maker, spending countless hours in her home-based paper mill, carefully and methodically crafting paper used for special occasions.
Still beautiful, she attracts the attention of a new young schoolteacher who's recently arrived and before long the two are caught up in a tempestuous affair. But the woman, Miki, is a member of the Bonomiya family, who's cursed with the supposed presence of the Inugami, wild dog spirits that emerge when family members engage in forbidden acts of congress. While there is never any overt horror here, there are subtle signs (sometimes not exactly subtle, but not long-lasting) that there may be some real truth to the legends.
Harada, the director, does a fine job with character development and unfolding the story. The pacing is perfect and the tragedy, or multiple tragedies, that make up the past and the present of the Bonomiyas are revealed gradually, as they should be in this kind of tale. Nothing here smacks of stupidity; the film is a highly intelligent piece of cinema that knows exactly how much to show and when to show it, and whose dialogue is pitch perfect.
The layers of dysfunction that are revealed are truly disturbing but not outside the realm of credibility which is a key element in how effective this film really is.
Creepy Horror Film That Lingers Until the End...
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 07/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A young teacher, Akira, arrives to a small town in the rural area of northern Japan where he falls in love with the much older papermaker Miki. As Akira develops his feelings for Miki he finds out about her family curse and how deeply rooted these beliefs are in the local population. However, it seems as if the local superstition is more than just a myth when strange and deadly occurrences take place in the small town. Inugami is a horror film that is suspenseful until the end, and leaves the audience with a good cinematic experience.
An Atmospheric Drama: Not Horror
Ernest Jagger | Culver City, California | 08/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From director Masato Harada, "Inugami" is not a horror film, but more of a psychological horror drama where the past is about to come full circle for the films main protagonists and antagonists. Those who go into this film thinking that this is a Japanese horror film will do better to look elsewhere. This film is not about horror, per se, as much as it is about the drama of past events which have been hidden away for too many years, and as a result are about to unleash itself on the films main characters.
Miki Bonomiya (Yuki Amami) is a rice-paper maker. She is not fully content with her life; as there are tragedies in her past, which the film is about to explore. Miki's life is one of past regrets and unrealized potential: Due to the domination of the Bonomiya families eldest brother, Takanao (Kuzuhiro Yamaji). Takanao is a self-centered egotistical bully who dominates every facet of the Bonomiya household. Not content with ruining his own life, due to his own failures, he is the main antagonist whose actions will set the tone for the horrible events which will take place in the films climax.
Much like the antagonist in the 1985 film, "Himatsuri," Takanao is not a sympathetic character. Enter Akira (Atsuro Watabe) who has journeyed to this beautiful and isolated community to begin his new job. He is a teacher from Tokyo; and there is more to his connection to this community and the papermaker Miki and Takanao than he or anybody else is aware of. According to legend, the Bonomiya family is cursed; and others in the small community keep their distance; and only interact with the family when they must do business: For Miki's paper is highly prized by the community. She does it all by hand, while the rest of the community has modernized.
The tragedy of her past is what this films main theme is about. Akira Nutahara (Atsuro Watabe) becomes close to Miki, and they soon find themselves in love: to the chagrin of the eldest brother. But all is not what it seems in this film. There is an ancient legend that the family Miki belongs to carries a curse, the Inugami: evil dog spirits. Moreover, the Bonomiya family that Miki is part of are the protectors of the Inugami. Therefore, it is up to the Bonomiya family to keep watch over these Inugami.
When a chain of tragedies begin to strike members of this rustic community, they begin to blame the Bonomiya family. In the film, we see Miki interact with her mother; as her mother tells her about her resposibility of watching over the Inugami. However, there is a problem with this, as her mother has been dead for some time. Is this all in Miki's head? Or is there really a curse? There are many secrets to Miki's past life that I do not want to spoil for you, and a very strange ending.
I enjoyed watching this film in regards to the rustic, and rural beauty of Japan where this film takes place. And we can thank the cinematographer (Junichi Fujisawa) for this. He also did the cinematography in the film "9 Souls." Some of the reviewers have skewered this film, however, I believe that this is a very good film. For those looking for horror, you need to look elsewhere, this movie it not about that. I recommend this film for those who like psychological horror, instead of blood and gore. This film is much better than some viewers have otherwise stated. [Stars: 4.5]"
Wood and water and flesh and blood
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 08/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Director Masato Harada likes to play with taboos. In his film "Bounce Ko Gals", he showed the not-so-hidden world of schoolgirl prostitution. In "Kamakazi Taxi" he showed the ugly racism of Japan, where those who are not "pure Japanese" bear the guilt of their birth, and are excluded from proper society. In "Inugami," he tackles subjects even more taboo. Incest. Discrimination. The trap of family tradition. He knows the deep dark forests of Japan, and the horrible secrets that lurk there.
A lush and sensual film, "Inugami" is all about the beauty of the forest, and the lure of wood and trees and dark groves. Every shot is absolutely beautiful, and conjures up a fantasy land of a section of Japan that still clings to the old ways, where the ancient gods still hold sway and the people who live in the remote mountain villages cannot escape their influence. Harada has set out to seduce his audience with the visual presence of a Japanese forest, combined with beautiful women empowered with a heady forbidden sexuality. Secrets lie under every shadow, and the forest produces many shadows.
In a bit of unfortunate timing, this film has ridden on the crest of the boom in Japanese horror films, and tends to get lumped in with them, even though it is an entirely different breed. The supernatural elements are there, but they are the primal elements of the forest, not spooky ghosts popping out of televisions. "Inugami" has much more in common with director Mitsuo Yanagimachi's powerful film "Himatsuri", both of which show the raw nature of the Japanese country side, and the people who live there.
This is not a cerebral film, and is more of a feast for the senses. Don't expect the story to come together into a tight little package, with everything explained and all curiosities satisfied. Just allow yourself to be seduced by the mystery and the beauty."