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Over Your Dead Body (2014)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/5/2016
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/6/2015
Even if you've seen just one foreign film, you've probably noticed that they can be different from the typical product which we got from Hollywood. The pacing can be different, as some of the movies are much slower than what we are used, as can the tone, as many foreign films aren't afraid to get incredibly depressing. Overall, it would be safe to say that the entire "vibe" can be something to which we aren't accustomed. While a little change is good for us, this difference can also make these films seem inaccessible at times. Over Your Dead Body has this sort of off-putting vibe from the outset, and as the film grows, the awkwardness only increases.
Over Your Dead Body introduces us to Miyuki (Ko Shibasaki), an actress who is participating in a play, which is in dress rehearsals. Joining her in the play is Kosuke (Ebizo Ichikawa), who also happens to be her lover. In the play, they portray a doomed couple. He is a samurai who leaves her essentially for a better job. In real life, Miyuki begins to suspect that Kosuke is pulling away from her, and she doesn't like how he looks at fellow actress, Rio (Miho Nakanishi). As the stress of the play and her relationship gets to her, Miyuki becomes obsessed with getting pregnant.
Over Your Dead Body comes from Takashi Miike, the prolific Japanese director known for his over-the-top movies like Audition, Ichi the Killer, and The Happiness of the Katakuris. He also directed the one episode of Masters of Horror which Showtime refused to air. Needless to say, his films are often graphic and outrageous. And yet, Over Your Dead Body could be shown on network television with very few cuts. This isn't is and out itself a bad thing, but Miike fans who come to movie expecting his usual brand of in-your-face filmmaking will be disappointed. I haven't seen enough of Miike's work to know what kind of pace his films usually have, but this one is very slow-paced to the point of being quite boring at times. It's clear that the story is building to something, but it takes 36-minutes for something which is actually interesting to happen (Something, which it turns out, has little to do with the rest of the movie) and it takes 56-minutes for something which feels like it belongs in a Miike film to occur.
In addition to the tame nature of the film and its languid pacing, there are problems with the story, some of which are not the fault of the movie. You see, I've come to learn that the play which is being performed in the movie is based on a very famous Japanese story called "Yotsuya Kaidan" which comes from a play which originated in 1825. So, Japanese audiences most likely recognize the story, which Western viewers have no idea what the hell is going on. The story in the play itself is not very deep, but it paints the film in an entirely different light to know that it's something which the audience is supposed to know. This does not excuse the issues which arise with the story in the third act. The first 2/3 of the film are relatively straight-forward -- we have the play rehearsals and Miyuki's life of the stage and we see how they intertwine. (Kudos to the movie for not hitting us over the head with the parallels.) But the last 2/3 of the film take a decided turn for the weird and take us into a landscape where we don't know what is real and what isn't. I would love to say it's up to the audience's interpretation, but I think that would be giving the movie too much credit. Things happen, and then they seem to "unhappen", and the whole thing is a mess. It's one thing to leave a film with questions, it's quite another to not know what in the world is going on.
It had been a while since I'd seen a Miike film (or any Japanese movie for that matter), so I was excited about checking out Over Your Dead Body. How disappointing that the movie is pretty much a dud from beginning to end. While the production design is exquisite (although, I must ask why they would build a full-scale working stage in a rehearsal space), the story and the pacing leaves much to be desired. The films of Takashi Miike have been described as many things over the years, but it's rare when one is referred to as dull.
Over Your Dead Body will make you distrust your kitchen implements on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Shout! Factory. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. This movie is very dark at times (Miike does a lot with light and shadows here), but the image is never overly dark and the action is always visible. The colors look very good, and we get occasionally splashes of red, green, or orange. The picture shows good detail and an average amount of depth. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For the most part, this is a quiet film, but we do get some very nice stereo effects, most notably during the play scenes, as things are happening to the left or right of the screen. There are some mild surround and subwoofer, effects, most of which occur during one of the film's few "shock" moments.
The lone extra on the Over Your Dead Body Blu-ray Disc is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long