Obscure Horror Cinema: Sweet Home

by William Burns

The J-Horror craze of the 2000’s burned brightly but soon became a victim of its own success. For every Ringu, Ju-On, Uzumaki, Marebito, or Audition, there were a string of sequels and cookie cutter copy cats that quickly watered down the hauntingly strange and startlingly graphic traits of Japanese horror. The sight of a female ghost with stringy hair in front of its face or of a waifish little boy with large black eyes have become objects of parody rather than achieving the iconic status these originals deserve. One of the most innovative J Horror creators is Kiyoshi Kurosawa, director of such terror classics as Cure, Pulse, Loft, and Retribution. Kurosawa’s films mix Hitchcockian obsessions with the frenzied modern savagery of early Hooper and Craven. Although Kurosawa was in the vanguard of the J-Horror movement, his first horror film predated the trend by ten years. Sweet Home was Kurosawa’s first foray into horror and its story of family secrets, a vicious poltergeist, and ghostly possession are terrifyingly realistic. Though Kurosawa would later refine his approach to horror, Sweet Home takes a kitchen sink approach to the haunted house theme, throwing one ghastly effect at the audience after another until the surprisingly happy ending. Sweet Home was co-released with a video game based on the film (or was it the other way around?). While I can’t comment on its video game incarnation, here is the unfairly ignored Sweet Home for all the J-Horror fans out there.


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