Over Your Dead Body – Miike’s chilling tribute to “Yotsuya Kaidan”
Written by: Kikumi Yamagishi
Directed by: Takashi Miike
Takashi Miike has been called many things: master of horror, provocateur, sicko. The guy makes some polarizing films… and he makes A LOT of them. Being the type of movie lover that thrives on watching films that elicit strong, emotional responses, I love him. Is some of his stuff shocking? Sure. Does some of it border on vomit-inducing? You betcha (“Visitor Q”, I am looking at you). At the end of the day though, Miike makes a ton of quality flicks none of which is similar to the rest.
In Miike’s triumphant return to horror (and I mean full on horror, not quasi-horror like “Lesson of Evil”) “Over Your Dead Body” he does something different… shocking I know. The film is based on a centuries old, Japanese play called “Yotsuya Kaidan”. The story is of a disgraced samurai who murders his fiance’s father, after being told that he will not give his blessing for them to wed. Some time later, the two have a child and the wife becomes ill. When the samurai is approached by a rich man and offered employment and the hand of the man’s granddaughter, he agrees and does the unthinkable.
In Miike’s version, the story follows the life of the couple who star, as the husband and wife, in the play. Slowly, throughout the film, the happenings in the play begin to seep into their lives off stage. The space between reality and fantasy becomes thinner and thinner until they are drowning in total madness. The film starts out a little slow, and requires a bit of patience on the part of the viewer. If you can hang in there though, boy is it worth it! Miike uses every trick in his bag, from gory self-mutilation to eerie, supernatural entities, all leading up to a splendidly mind-blowing ending.
For me, “Audition” is (and may always be) Miike’s masterpiece. That being said, “Over Your Dead Body” is in the same ballpark. I would place it firmly in the top tier of his accomplishments, and would highly recommend it to lovers of his films or even fans of horror.