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House (Hausu)

3 Ratings: 4.3
A movie

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Tags: Movies
Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Release Date: September 1, 1977
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about House (Hausu)

A slice of Japan's genuine oddity.

  • Aug 17, 2011
Rating:
+4
***1/2 out of ****

I like haunted house movies. They take a very large aspect of our everyday lives and embed a sort of horrific quality into it; to make us frightened, paranoid...scared, at least genuinely. To make a good haunted house film, you need to use as much visual style as you possibly can, while still making the thing scary enough to appeal to real horror fans. There are bad haunted house movies, like "The Amityville Horror", and then there are good ones like the incredibly underrated "House"; which has just recently got the amount of appreciation is deserves with a Criterion Collection re-issuing. It's destined to be a hit with a loyal cult audience one day, and for now, it's still getting there.

The director of "The House of the Devil", Ti West, probably helped as much as he could to get the film released. He provides some interviews on the home video release regarding his thoughts on the film. He seems to really enjoy it, which comes to no surprise; given what an all-around awesome guy he is (I thought "The House of the Devil" was one of the best films of 2009). So I think West for getting this thing the release that it deserves.

There are the seven samurai and then there are the seven little girls (of "House"); Gorgeous, Prof, Melody, Kung Fu, Mac, Sweet, and Fantasy. I'm not kidding; these are the names of the seven central young women of the film. It adds to the film's attempt at campiness and possibly cultural satire; which works for the most part, and only doesn't work when the film is at its best; in a dream-like state.

Gorgeous is upset by the sudden arrival of her new mother; a woman that her father had not told her about before-hand. To ease herself of such emotional burden, Gorgeous decides to write a letter to her seemingly long-lost aunt; who lives in the middle of nowhere, but in a large, nice house. The aunt responds and invites Gorgeous and the other six to her place; and they accept.

They make the trip and gleefully so. Another friend is supposed to meet them there, but he keeps getting caught up in all sorts of mischief (getting a bucket stuck on his bottom, going out for dinner with friends, and finally, getting turned into a humanoid made of bananas). This leaves the girls on their own throughout the film. Anyways, the aunt seems nice enough; she lives alone, unless you count her snow-white cat. However, each character begins to have strange visions. I shall tell you what some of them are.

There's a scene where a girl is bitten on the behind by a decapitated head that rises from the well that resides nearby the premises. There are also multiple scenes in which that fluffy kitty seems not so cute (or fluffy) after all. It lets us know with a strange, green-ish glimmer in its eyes.

Basically, this film is all imagery and little story-telling. It was directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi; a former music-video-director, who was apparently skilled when it came to his craft. Nowadays, most filmmakers bring unimaginative visuals to the table; but I imagine this was still made in the days when good music video directors, who also made good filmmakers, could still exist. I will never forget watching "House". I believe you need to see it twice in order to absorb the absurdity of it all. While most Hollywood filmmakers want to have us know that something has to make SENSE to be good or even great; this is the work of a rare filmmaker that goes against that very belief.

If floods of blood, man-eating pianos, evil cats, evil ghosties, and fat men who run random watermelon stands on the side of the road are your kind of thing; then definitely see "House". It is a horror movie, but don't expect it to be scary. As I mentioned earlier, it's campy; and decidedly so. Expect to laugh. And expect to merely "experience" something. It's nice, once in a while, to just sit back, relax, and admire pure, experimental, surrealist filmmaking. This movie, unlike films like "The Beyond", has exactly the feel as structure of a dream. It doesn't make much sense, but few dreams truly do. Thus, it does what it wants to do; while offering us with something just a bit more. My advice - my kindest advice - would be to unearth its dark, imaginative realms for yourself.

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