Splatter Time Fun Fest 2011 travels to Japan for a movie that is possibly beyond my descriptive capabilities!
Screenplay By: Chiho Katsura
Directed By: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
My wife absolutely hated Hausu, the words she most often uttered while watching Hausu were, “What the fuck!” At first I shared her sentiment, not the hatred, but the what the hell attitude. The way the camera moved, the way that Nobuhiko Ôbayashi inserted strange effects, and the oddness of the acting were all, well, really odd. I was having a hard time getting past these elements, then for some reason I stopped thinking about them altogether. That’s when I realized I had taken a drastic turn away from my wife’s viewpoint, I was having a lot of fun with Hausu.
I don’t know when I started to have fun, but I did and the fun never really stopped. There were some slow stretches, a few excruciatingly slow stretches actually, but overall I can’t say there was a moment in Hausu where I wasn’t at the very least enjoying myself. Ôbayashi-san’s willingness to go to different places with his camera and the story are where most of my enjoyment was gleaned from. It didn’t all quite work, but there was a frenetic energy to the chaos of the film that was hard not to like.
Psychedelic horror is not a sub-genre of horror that I am very familiar with. I’m pretty sure I’ve been exposed to some of it throughout the years, but that was before I really started keeping track of what movies I was watching. The way the film presents itself is certainly a trip, it has a highly unusual visual style and tone. The problem I have with the psychedelic horror label is that there really isn’t much that is horrific about a film like Hausu. I can see where it plays around a bit with the horror genre, but it creates its own vibe in doing so. That vibe removes it from the horror it is toying with so that instead of being horrific it’s trippy fun. This isn’t truly a knock against the film, if anything it’s a knock against labeling films, of which I am just as guilty as the next person.
I’m still unsure how I truly felt about the double/triple/quadruple take style of filming that Ôbayashi-san employed. I’m still unsure about the fourth wall winking at the camera stuff. It’s subtly done mind you, subtle enough that it wasn’t until I thought about Hausu after the fact that I realized the winking was even taking place. That being said, for as subtle as it is I’m not completely sold on a lot of the key crazy elements of Hausu. It’s a weird thing to say I know, and no pun intended, but I’m still digesting much of Hausu. It’s a film that is so different that I’m having trouble processing it like I would a usual film experience. I don’t know if I would get more out of Hausu on repeat viewings, but I think there is a possibility I would and that is exciting.
Hausu wasn’t the horror classic I was hoping for (all blame for that is on my expectations), but it was a unique presentation. I’m happy to have seen Hausu for that reason alone. It’s not a great film, but it was a great experience, if that makes any sense? Hausu isn’t a film to recommend one way or another, it’s similar to El Topo in that I think every cinephile at the very least owes it to themselves to experience the craziness of Nobuhiko Ohbayashi’s vision. I’m glad I watched what Ôbayashi-san had to offer, I’m always willing to have some wacky fun.