House was originally released in 1977 and was the debut feature of surrealist director Nobuhiko Obayashi (The Discarnates, Seven Weeks). Forty years later, it still has the capacity to leave a lasting impact. It is presented here as part of the Masters of Cinema series, #184.
“It’s Sweetie’s apron. Look, here’s her bra as well…”
Angel (Kimiko Ikegami – The Geisha, A Chaos of Flowers) is a schoolgirl who lives happily with her doting father. She is looking forward to a holiday with just the two of them, but when her father announces that he has met a new bride, Ryôko Ema (Haruko Wanibuchi – The Stairway to the Distant Past) she is upset and writes to her Aunt (Yôko Minamida – The Reason, The Crucified Lovers) to ask permission to stay with her instead.
The reply arrives, she would love to see her and so off she goes, with six of her school friends and her cat Snowy in tow. They struggle to find the remote mansion, but when they do they fall instantly in love with it. Angel’s Aunt is now in a wheelchair, but gives them a warm welcome and there seems to be something for everyone to enjoy.
Sweetie (Masayo Miyako – The Visitor in the Eye) loves to clean, Prof (Ai Matsubara – Shogun) is the studious type, Kung Fu (Miki Jinbo – The Possessed) is an agile martial artist and Melody (Eriko Tanaka) is a musician who loves the piano at the house. Fantasy (Kumiko Ohba – Village of Doom) is a keen photographer and the dreamer of the group and Mac (Meiko Satô – Wahari Days)
It isn’t long however before strange things begin to happen. Mac goes to fetch a watermelon from the well and never returns and Aunt starts to act strangely. As they realise the house is out to get them, they must use their unique skills in order to survive.
House is certainly a memorable film and watching it is an experience not soon forgotten. The special effects are trippy and very surreal, not to mention really badly done and although I’m sure that was deliberate, for me it detracts a little from the enjoyment. That said, it is hard to take your eyes off it.
The story rushes along at breakneck speed, dragging you with it and occasionally leaving you behind, but it does keep you on your toes right to the very end. Strangely compelling and well worth adding to your collection.
“It’s unscientific, unexplainable, unnatural, unreasonable, it’s absurd…”
House (HAUSU) is available to buy now on Blu-ray.