LIFF#4: Inuyashiki (Japan 2018)

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Defined by evil

Sato Shinsuke’s adaptation of Oku Hiroya’s manga utilises modern to CGI to render the ‘impossible’ but the visuals rarely engross. The ‘underdog bites back’ is a well trodden narrative but there can be fewer lower canines that Kinashi Noritake’s titular salaryman who his family hates and for whom unemployment looms. There’s some pleasure in seeing ‘old dads as superheroes’ but it is a film of missed opportunities.

An unknown, presumably extraterrestrial, encounter transforms Inuyashiki into a sort of Tetsuo (a character in a trilogy directed by Tsukamoto Shin’ya) with the iron bits built in; however there’s no body horror. Alienated teen, Shishigami Hiro (Satô Takeru), experiences the same transformation but decides to use his powers for evil whilst Inuyashiki frequents hospital corridors saving the terminally ill. A perfect set up to consider ‘evil’ and ‘good’ I thought but this is dispensed with in the pyrotechnics that follow an overlong set up. It’s not that the film isn’t enjoyable, but the potential of the narrative was unrealised.

Satô is brilliant as the cold-eyed killer but Kinashi is a little one-note as the turning worm. In fact, he doesn’t turn very much, he remains meek throughout and his reconciliation with his daughter was (to my western eyes) mawkish.

There’s a slightly ridiculous coda that’s intended to set up a sequel (apparently there are two in the works) and hopefully they offer something for the mind and not just the eye.

One comment

  1. John Hall

    Always good to keep an eye on the Leeds Film Festival for the maddest Japanese film they can throw at you as they rarely disappoint. Not quite ‘Steamboy’ or ‘Paprika’ of some years back but much to enjoy here for me in the crazy weaponry randomly added to two disparate Earth-dwellers by some beneficent or mischievous alien. The only sad bit was seeing him try so hard to impress his obnoxious family when he could have taken them to outer space and left them there. They did not even want him to keep his only friend, that cute dog Hanako.

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