Hausu – The Future Of Horror Unexplored

October 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

There are these fleeting moments of surrealism trickling through in what we define as reality that we have all experienced; call it déjà vu or peripheral fantasy if you wish. Though, it’s a bit of a sacrilege to identify this occurrence with those of a sane point of view. I propose those people are completely sane, for only a sane person in contemporary culture denies imagination. No matter though; the imagination remains incontrovertible and intact…and unexplained? Naturally, but only to the point where you choose to limit yourself. Hausu prefers to exaggerate that which is fleeting, dimishing that which is real, and in such a world where reality can call itself calculable. The film takes a leap into alien waters, lest you forget it’s still the 70s.

And in the limits of imagination…oh how silly. Refuse limits. Hell, contradict them, because when you watch a movie like Hausu, you mustn’t regard the inanity for mere face value. Though, Hausu has thrived off negativity, as it did when it was released in Japan; put to the cross for not being a real film. Surely enough, it helped revive Japanese cinema for the new generation, inspiring the medium to look away from the borders of a genre (certainly inspiring genre-benders such as Takashi Miike, amongst others). But why so much attention from younger people back then? Realism in film was a big deal at the time, and in Japan you had Ozu’s films regarded as the true temperament of cinema. So, in comparison to Hausu’s illegitimate consciousness, no one wanted anything to do with it. Except teenagers. In the film you have an utterly fantastical backdrop and scenes moving at a commercial’s pace, let alone every special effect in the book. It was only natural that director Nobuhiko Obayashi co-wrote the script with his 10-year-old daughter, who provided many set-ups of the illogical occurrences that you see.

So, with that in our satchels, regarding the film as a realistic nightmare, in all its off-kilter angles, where you don’t know if you’re laughing because it’s comical or to feel better about yourself, Hausu transforms from a outlandishly painted sunset to an absurd protrusion to your earliest subconscious. It was strange how the tone could go from Japanese pop art to campy-yet-serious horror in a slit of the wrist, but as it is so, I only found myself confounded and captivated by the consistency in resourcefulness the film showed multiple times within each scene, something that is unheard of in contemporary horror, or contemporary art house.

Speaking of the horror genre, could I really consider Hausu a horror film? With character names like Fantasy, Gorgeous, Mac (short for stomach), Kung Fu, Sweet, and Melody? (The names actually have a lot more effect on how you perceive the film’s tone, but) I would say it can be if only for the fact that it recognizes the fallacies of horror while embellishing them in an almost 4D viewing experience, making the shock of one scene overlap into the unnervingly upbeat tone of the next scene. It’s Hausu’s ability to experiment with what a ghost story is, how it is perceived in the pure imagination of a child (hence the immediate pacing perhaps), and interlocking it with irreverence for the past. It can’t forget the past, naturally, but in order to progress in the fashion Obayashi desired, references tend to become obsolete. I feel connected with this film in the sense that I understand the pretentiousness of the “adult” imagination in comparison to one with no need for logic. Logic is only an instrument, hence its impermanence, so in recollection of aesthetic instruments, and the cacophony a renaissance man wishes upon the world of the sane, the beauty in the annihilation of art will only become art anew.

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