TIFF Journal: ‘Over Your Dead Body’

'Over Your Dead Body'

Movie Rating:


A classic theatrical revenge story mixed with backstage intrigue and possible hauntings, ‘Over Your Dead Body’ has “Japanese horror movie” written all over it. Even better, it marks the long awaited return to horror for one of the country’s most beloved gore auteurs: that sick puppy Takashi Miike.

Horror film fanatics react to the name Takashi Miike with a mixture of reverence and dread. Reverence because he’s one of the few genre filmmakers who can gross out even the most hardened gorehounds, and dread for the exact same reason. Though Miike has never stopped cranking out multiple films per year and ladling record-breaking quantities of blood and gore onto the screen, it’s been a while since he actually made a full-on horror film. Thankfully, that wait is over. In ‘Over Your Dead Body’, Miike has delivered the type of horror film that earned him international acclaim with ‘Audition’: a slow-burn story that borders on tedious for almost an hour before unleashing an avalanche of some of the most disgusting imagery you’ve ever seen.

The plot involves a theater company staging the classic Japanese revenge play ‘Yotsuya Kaidan’, and Miike uses that as an excuse to indulge in some of the most elaborate tricks and techniques of his early stage directing career: rotating sets, bizarre lighting cues, etc. Slowly, subplots build up for the actors in the show – a little jealousy peppered here and a little adultery there. As the production goes on, odd similarities start to emerge between the on- and offstage antics, as well as the distinct possibility of some supernatural shenanigans. By the time you remember you’re caught in a Miike mindfuck, it’s too late. The director piles on self-mutilation, jump scares and decapitations at a rapid pace that will leave audiences stumbling out of the theater in a gob-smacked daze.

It’s what the man does best, and ‘Over Your Dead Body’ is right on-point for those who love the macabre ways of this twisted director. Those who don’t enjoy Miike needn’t apply. That would be the cinematic equivalent of the director’s beloved brand of needle torture.

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