Director: Masato Harada
Starring: Yuki Amami
Japanese folklore speaks of a time when people sacrificed their pet and conjured up the animal’s spirit to do their bidding, like play a cruel prank or worse. (Helluva opening, huh?)
These spirits were called Inugamis, or “dog-gods” in Japanese.
And unlike the Genie in Aladdin’s Lamp, the Inugamis were little devils, hard to control, and not easy to put back in the bottle.
Those who believe the legend say that whoever invokes an Inugami must serve them well, enshrining them in an urn and offering them fruits or onigiri (a Japanese rice dumpling) every day. Serving an Inugami is not only a lifelong duty, but also a family commitment — with the responsibility, usually given to a woman, being passed down from generation to generation.
In Mast Harada’s 2001 film, “Inugami”, 41-year-old Miki Bonomiya (starring Yuki Amami), bearer of an inugami urn, lives by making wagami (traditional Japanese paper) in a remote village of Kochi Prefecture in Shikoku.
There, she meets her lover, Akira Nutahara, a 25-year-old high school teacher of Japanese classic literature. And it is there the horror begins.
“Inugami” is based on a 1993 novel of the same title by Masako Bando. The movie, with an Oedipal theme and feminist undertone, is still quite faithful to its fictional counterpart, although not perfectly captured in the film. Nevertheless, the beautiful cinematography, the idyllic setting and the dramatic skills of the cast more than compensate.
Be warned: nudity, explicit sex scenes and moral depravity abound.
Rating (one to five whistles, five being the best): Four Whistles
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