Takashi Miike movies are never going to attract “general audiences,” with both Audition and Ichi the Killer being two movies that are extremely weird, but very well made. In Audition’s case, it was a film that was frightening and made you think twice about speed dating and in Ichi the Killer’s case, it was just a f’ed up movie. Miike’s newest movie Over Your Dead Body, which premiered in Canada at the Toronto Film Festival in 2014, is a film that looks artistically beautiful, yet the story doesn’t back it up, falling apart midway through and never able to recover. I’m sure there are fans of this movie out there, so Scream Factory has done their job by releasing it on Blu-ray, but it may be a hard purchase to recommend, especially with it lacking any special features. Read on to see if you agree…
SUBTITLES: English REGION: A RATING: NR PRODUCTION DATE: 2014 RELEASE DATE: Jan 5, 2016
A beautiful actress (Kô Shibasaki of 47 Ronin and Battle Royale) plays the protagonist in a new play based on a legendary ghost story. She pulls some strings to get her lover cast in the play, although he’s a relatively unknown actor. With the cast in place, rehearsals for the play, about an abusive relationship and a grudge, begin. But off stage, some begin to develop their own obsessions. Trapped between the play and reality, they are horrified to find that a real grudge can cross the blurred line between reality and fantasy. Will love flourish? Or has it already turned hideously dark?
The plot for Over Your Dead Body, a title which in my opinion doesn’t properly describe the movie you are about to watch, is about life imitating art to an extreme degree. Miyuki Goto (Ko Shibasaki) is an actress in a troubled relationship with her fellow co-star Kosuke Hasegawa (Ebizo Ichikawa). The play they are both starring in is Yotsuya Kaidan (written in 1825), which is about, and I’m paraphrasing here, a samurai who plots against his wife and child to marry another younger, more beautiful looking woman. Director Miike has decided to spend a good portion of the movie on this play, having the actors rehearse it throughout the entire movie. The set pieces for the play are certainly breathtaking, with a rotating stage being the biggest highlight. The play itself is interesting, but the other stuff is where the problems lay. The rest of the story is about Miyuki’s personal life and how her lover (Kosuke) is cheating on her with another woman, a woman who also happens to be in the play, playing the younger woman that the samurai goes for. It’s all a rather muddled soap operaesque mess that tries hard to provide some much-needed horror, but it comes much too late and your interest has most likely waned by then.
Over Your Dead Body is a nice looking flick, but that’s about it. Had Miike chose to just retell the play and remove the other stuff, it may have worked, but having those personal life issues present takes you out of the movie. You’re craving creepiness, but it comes too late. There is one scene involving some kitchen utensils that was frightening, but the movie throws a random twist your way and a good part of what you just sat through may or may not have actually happened. In the end, a very confusing mess is what Over Your Dead Body ends up being.
The Blu-ray from Scream Factory is certainly nice looking, with the play scenes being the most eye pleasing material. There are some blooming issues in certain scenes and a bit of graininess during night scenes, but overall it’s a nice looking disc. The audio side of things is also pleasant, with three choices to choose from: Japanese: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and Japanese: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.
Special Features are lacking, with only a trailer provided.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
Over Your Dead Body failed to impress me. It started off certainly interesting, but as you start to realize that the play is going to be most of what you’re seeing, you begin to see that the other fluffy stuff isn’t going to be expanded upon properly and it ends up being hard to sit through. Like I already said, if Miike stuck with just retelling the famous ghost story in his style of directing, it probably would’ve worked out much better in the end. However, given what we got, when the end credits roll, you’ll most likely be as disappointed as I was.
With the lack of special features and a story that is muddled, I can only justify giving it one zombie brain.