Thursday, February 18, 2016

Women in Horror Mini-Reviews: Over Your Dead Body and Honeymoon

spoilers to follow...

* Over Your Dead Body

A famous actress Miyuki Goto is the lead in a new play based on the ghost story Yotsuya Kaidan. She pulls some strings to get her lover Kosuke Hasegawa, a relatively unknown actor, as the main male lead. When the film starts, it's clear that Kosuke is losing interest and sleeping with other women. He's presumably keeping up the charade to keep his role in the play, which is a sad story about a lazy, lying samurai who kills a woman's father to marry her, gets her pregnant, and then continues to be lazy and unsatisfied with married life with little money. A rich young girl wants to marry him and he poisons his wife and squalling, who then haunt him. In real life, their lives reflect the play (without the murder and the child) with some added weirdness.

I went into the film with no expectations and it's an interesting quasi-ghost story with typical Miike twistedness and flair. The visuals in the film, especially the parts at the play, are absolutely gorgeous with a Miike edge. I liked exploring both sides of the story in the play and outside of it. The story in the play is quite tragic and at times brutal to watch. I would have loved to see the play because it had excellent production value and incredibly detailed backgrounds on a giant rotating stage.The samurai character is abusive to his wife and those scenes are hard to watch, especially while the wife agrees that everything is her fault and she should be better.

Outside of the play, Miyuki knows something is amiss with her relationship and she spends most of her time at home alone, waiting for Kosuke to come home. I wanted to like Miyuki, but she completely revolved around Kosuke. After a while, she was convinced she was pregnant with his child (I guess to trap him into staying?) and she wanted to induce labor in one of the most stomach turning ways possible, especially since it was concretely confirmed that she wasn't pregnant in the first place. Almost all of the female characters revolve around this one horrible man. It made those women into flat, stock characters with no other motivations or goals. Overall, Over Your Dead Body is another creepy addition to Miike's ouvre, but most of the characters are quite flat. There were also some loose ends and missed opportunities that could have made the film even creepier.

My rating: 2.5/5 fishmuffins

* Honeymoon

Bea and Paul just had their dream wedding and are having their honeymoon in a rustic cabin out in the forest. All is happy, smiles, and sex in the beginning as they can't keep their hands off each other and they settle into married life. Weirdness starts to happen when they run into an old friend of Bea's who runs a diner and threatens them before he knows who he is. Bea starts acting strangely, especially at night. She sleepwalks, develops some sort of sores on her inner thigh that she's secretive about, and forgets significant events in their lives. Why is she changing so rapidly?

Honeymoon taps into a visceral fear that so many men and women have: marrying someone they don't know or losing their identity after marriage. At first, everything is fine. The couple has sex constantly as newlyweds do and romance is in the air. Then things go south quickly. Bea starts literally losing herself. She has to write down basic things about herself like her name, where she lives, and who her husband is. With women changing their names and giving up a literal part of their identity, it's a concern when marriage is involved that other things may follow. Bea mentions having children as if she thinks it's required rather than really wanting them. Judging by Paul's reaction, they hadn't really talked about it before, which is troubling to find out after the marriage.

Paul isn't exempt from weird changes. The minute they run into Bea's old friend, he gets possessive, distrustful, and paranoid, a complete turnaround from how he was at the beginning. Everything is suspect. He snoops through Bea's things and seems to think he's entitled to know everything about her. Unfortunately, the film is a bit one sided. Paul isn't viewed as extremely as Bea is (who literally loses her memory and starts mutating into something else). The most creepy scene is very similar to the "inducement" in Over Your Dead Body, but with an added creature involved. It has do with Paul's fear of becoming a father and transforming her vagina from a pleasurable to a frightening experience. I get the meaning behind it, but I can't help but resent this part of the plot. Women are constantly being told how their bodies are deficient in some way without the added creature feature or men's anxiety about it. I just don't have sympathy for Paul and his fear of his wife's nonsexual vaginal functions. Sorry, but childbirth is a natural function of vaginas. Plus I have no sympathy for him if he didn't even bother asking that important question before marrying her. The plot is really light, but it's very unsettling. I wish more could have been shown from Bea's perspective of the marriage. It felt like she was being demonized while Paul's erratic, controlling behavior was supposed to be understandable.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

No comments: