While I spend this weekend at Portland Retro Gaming Expo, here at Bureau42, we’re tuning in to the Frequency of Fear as our October Countdown of Halloween Horrors continues…

September 30: Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (JD)

October 6: Suspiria (Alex)
October 7: The Seventh Victim (JD)

October 13: Friday the 13th-a “Make Me Watch It” Podcast (Blaine)
October 14: Hereditary (JD)

October 20: Hausu (Alex)
October 21: Eye of the Devil (JD)

October 27: A Quiet Place (JD)
October 28: Alone in the Dark (JD)

October 31: Halloween 2018 (JD)
Return of the Living Dead (JD)

Today we have a horror comedy out of Japan – one that can be found within the Criterion Collection. House/Hausu.

Title: House

Cast and Crew

Kimiko Ikegami as Oshare / Gorgeous / Mother
Miki Jinbo as Kung Fu
Kumiko Ohba as Fantasy
Ai Matsubara as Gari / Prof
Mieko Satô as Mac
Eriko Tanaka as Melody
Masayo Miyako as Sweet
Kiyohiko Ozaki as Keisuke Tôgô

Directed by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi

Screenplay by Chiho Katsura
Original Story by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi

The Premise

A group of High School friends – Gorgeous, Kung Fu, Fantasy, Melody, Sweet, and Prof go to the house of Gorgeous’ aunt on vacation, before Gorgeous’ dad re-marries after Gorgeous’ mom passed away. However, the house is haunted by a variety of malevolent spirits, and it will take everything the girls have to survive.

High Points

The house itself generally feels creepy. Additionally, the basic idea of how this film came to be is pretty innovative and clever – it’s basically the director sitting down with their daughter to craft the general structure of the film and the beats of the film. It’s sort of like the Axe Cop principal applied to horror cinema.

Low Points

Some of the scare beats don’t quite work with how they’re executed, particularly with the performances by the actors. For example, in one instance – the way it plays out (without spoilers): the scary thing (which would normally be legitimately terrifying) happens, the character to whom this scary thing happens to with a reaction that doesn’t quite mesh (such as bemusement), one of the other girls acts with the appropriate response (horror), and then the subject acts with horror.

Scores

Originality: While this is is a haunted house story, giving this the “powered by a kid” take gives it a degree of sincerity. 5/6

Effects: The film’s effects are deliberately campy, so while the clear artifice is there, it’s also intended to be that way, in a consistent manner. 5/6

Acting: The director intentionally cast inexperienced actors in an attempt to make sure that they wouldn’t fall into any of the bad habits that Japanese TV actors can fall into. However, this also means that we get some poor acting decisions (as mentioned under the low point): 4/6

Production: While the effects have a clear sense of artifice, it’s also deliberate and consistent in that regard (as mentioned under the effects), and the production values – from everything from lighting to the color palette really gets that across. 5/6

Story: The story is pretty basic, but the way it’s executed is also pretty solid, as mentioned in the high point. 5/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Overall: This isn’t a particularly scary horror movie, but it’s a fun one. 5/6

In Total, House/Hausu gets 34 out of 42.