by Takashi Miike
JAPAN – 2014 – 90 MIN – JAPANESE – HORROR
Celluloid Dreams in partnership with Mongrel International
A theatre troupe rehearsing a classic play of murder, betrayal and phantasmagorical vengeance find life bloodily imitating art backstage, in this wild cinematic detour from madly prolific Japanese auteur Takashi Miike.
“Yet another wild cinematic detour from madly prolific Japanese auteur Takashi Miike, Over Your Dead Body unfolds within the walls of a theatre where a troupe of players are in rehearsals for a production of Yotsuya Kaidan, a 200-year-old tale of murder, betrayal, and phantasmagorical vengeance — and where life comes to imitate art in spooky and ultimately shocking ways.
Yotsuya Kaidan, one of Japan’s most famous ghost stories, tells of a poor, unemployed samurai who kills his fiancée’s disapproving father. The lovers marry and have a child, but continue to live in poverty. Sixteen years later, a nobleman offers the samurai a lucrative position, with one condition: the samurai must marry the nobleman’s granddaughter. The samurai doesn’t want to leave his wife, but the promise of advancement after so many years of hardship is more temptation than he can bear. His decision to abandon his old life for a new one sets the stage for a great upheaval — and a brutal revenge.
Originally produced in 1825 as a kabuki play, Yotsuya Kaidan has been adapted to film over thirty times since, but it has never been seen like this. Miike, who is also a veteran theatre director, mounts the action on a number of dazzlingly elaborate sets that sail into place on a rotating platform. Just as captivating as the narrative being played out onstage is the one taking shape in the wings, involving secret affairs, mental illness, and a pregnancy that could be real or just as illusionary as the fictional specters on the stage. As theatre and life begin to intertwine, Over Your Dead Body builds to a nightmarish finale that only a filmmaker as perversely brilliant as Miike could have envisioned.”
– GIOVANNA FULVI, TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL