DVD Review: Greatful Dead

Starring: Kumi Tachiuchi, Takashi Sasano

Director: Eiji Uchida

Rating: 7/10

greatful-dead 2This bad taste comedy-thriller from Japan nails its colours to the mast with an early scene where the beautiful protagonist poses for a selfie with the wizened remains of an old man who has popped his socks. Lonely and ignored as a child, Nami (Kumi Takiuchi) has grown up to become an independently wealthy young woman who lives in splendid isolation and spends all her time indulging her hobby, which consists of stalking what she terms “solitarians” – people who have gone crazy due to loneliness. Becoming obsessed with one particularly grumpy and isolated old man (Takashi Sasano), she’s infuriated when a pair of Bible-bashers befriend him and start turning his life around. Her retaliation is highly sadistic and involves, among other things, force-feeding the old man Cialis.

The early parts of the film play out in an arch, stylised manner, like a warped version ofgreatful-dead 1 Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie. Later on, as the strapping girl and the frail old man take pieces out of each other, the whole thing turns into more of a standard runaround, albeit a gleefully gory one marked by a dark, serio-comic tone. Throughout it’s distinguished by strong lead performances by Tachiuchi as the deceptively wholesome looking (but in fact totally crazed) antiheroine and Sasano as her grouchy, grumbling but wirily tough victim. Director Eiji Uchida struggles to keep control of the theme of urban loneliness – it morphs instead into a litany of the miseries and indignities of old age – but otherwise his direction is slick, pacey and to the point. Odd enough to merit immediate cult status, Greatful Dead is certainly one to check out if you’re bored of the usual stalk and slash fare and fancy an offering that turns the genre on its head and injects it with some much-needed satirical attitude.