Film review: 'House' defies description

Published: Thursday, March 25 2010 2:58 p.m. MDT

Ai Matsubara, left, and Miki Jinbo in scene from "House."

Toho Co.

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HOUSE — ★★ — Kimiko Ikegami, Kumiko Ohba, Miki Jinbo; with English subtitles (Japanese dialects); not rated, probable R (violence, gore, nudity, slurs, mild profanity); Tower Theatre

Words cannot properly describe "House," a cultily adored 1977 horror-fantasy that's been restored for a U.S. theatrical re-release, as well as an accompanying DVD release.

But perhaps this will do: The film is probably what you might get if you took elements from the works of oddball directors Takashi Miike and Tim Burton, threw them in a blender with snippets from the early movies of Dario Argento and Sam Raimi as well as a few select scenes from Japanese cartoon programs.

Of course, such a thing might best be enjoyed after consuming a sugary breakfast cereal, one drenched in equally sugary soda pop.

While that might be enjoyable for some, there are quite a few slow spots, head-scratching moments and oddities that make this an endurance test for all but the most determined of movie fans.

The story seems fairly straightforward. It's a variation on the familiar "Ten Little Indians" tale and follows a group of Japanese schoolgirls who are on spring break.

The most popular of them, Oshare, or Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami), suggests that they go to the mansion owned by her reclusive aunt (Yoko Minimida).

Once they arrive, though, the house itself begins "attacking" and killing the girls, one by one.

These killings include a bizarre sequence in which the musically talented Melody (Eriko Tanaka) is consumed by a ravenous piano.

Again, you'll probably need to be a Japanese cinephile — and properly sugared up — to get any real enjoyment out of this nonsense.

"House" is not rated but would probably receive an R for violent content and imagery (animal and other attacks, most of it consisting of violence against women), other gory and bloody imagery, full female nudity, derogatory language and slurs (some based on eating disorders), and scattered mild profanity. Running time: 87 minutes.

e-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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