Kuroneko is a very classic Japanese ghost story. At this point I have caught a few of these movies, and although they are beautiful, well filmed, well acted and in a genre I usually enjoy, my normal reaction to them is to be bored and fall asleep. They seem so meditative and quiet that I feel no fear, no emotions, just a relaxed state which leads to sleep, which can be very disconcerting to other viewers at the theater I am in. Good thing I almost always go with my girlfriend, so she can nudge me awake!
The plot of these movies are usually pretty simple and straightforward, and this one is no different. A bunch of samurai come across a house, and when they stop by to get water and such, they find a woman and her mother-in-law home alone, and proceed to rape and kill them. A black cat (keroneko in Japanese) is nearby, and becomes the host of their urge for revenge.
At this point they come back as ghosts and start to lure in the samurai who killed them, enacting their revenge on them, one by one. The leader of the area finds out that the samurai are being killed, and wants someone to find their killer and rid the area of this problem. Oddly enough, the guy who appears is the husband (and son) of the ghost of his wife and his mother. He was in battle and ended up being the last one left to battle the notorious killer, only to find he gets lucky and kills the killer. When he arrives back to his village, he finds his old house burned down, and his wife and mother missing. He gets hired to find the samurai killer, and while looking for the problem, he finds his mother and wife, though he does not exactly recognize them.
Without giving away even more plot, I will leave it at this. There are many good things about the film. It is exceedingly beautiful, well shot, the acting is more than fine, and the story isn't bad at all, but somehow I was left feeling the same way, bored and sleepy. I am pretty sure I actually started to doze after about two thirds of it, and I even thought about not reviewing this due to that. But I am pretty sure that I saw enough of the rest of it to know what happened wouldn't change how I felt about the film as a whole.
I will say this much, MANY people think their film and others like this are amazing. In Japan these films are serious classics, like how Frankenstein and Dracula are in the US. Some people even express how scary these films are, this one in particular. But alas, I do not feel this way. If you do like the slower Japanese ghost stories, then this one might be for you, but not for me.
6 out of 10 stars.
Location : The Metrograph, theater 2, NYC
Date and time : Friday, July 29th, 2016 at 9 PM
Format : 35mm
Audience : about 30 people