a screenshot from the Gozu

“Gozu”: a Review

By Andrea Mau
Web Content Contributor

“Gozu,” directed by Takeshi Miike, is a Japanese horror film and also one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever watched.  

screenshot from Gozu of Minami and Ozaki in a car
Scene from “Gozu.” Screenshot by Andrea Mau via Takeshi Miike.

“Gozu” follows Minami, a yakuza member who has been ordered to kill one of his fellow members, Ozaki. The two are sent out on a road trip to Nagoya under the guise of visiting another gang to do the deed, but Minami is reluctant to kill his beloved brother. However, Minami soon has no decision when Ozaki goes missing during the middle of their trip. The resulting search for this missing person is a hellish and surreal experience with many different characters in a small and spooky town.

screenshot from Gozu of a cafe
Scene from “Gozu.” Screenshot by Andrea Mau via Takeshi Miike.

“Gozu’s” horrific and yet strangely hilarious scenarios are by far the most striking thing about the film. The movie varies in scares from absolutely revolting scenes to subtle creepiness. The film excels in the amount of horror it provides, as even before the main characters leave the big city things take drastic and dark turns.

But what is so effective about these strange scenes is not just their grotesqueness, but the humor which is mixed in with it and often comes from the ridiculousness of the plot. This oddness permeates the film with the majority of characters acting abnormal and leads to bizarre encounters. There is a feeling of uneasiness that comes with this, and yet also a curiosity that pushes Minami and the viewer forward into the mystery. 

screenshot from Gozu of Mr. Nose and Minami
Scene from “Gozu.” Screenshot by Andrea Mau via Takeshi Miike.

While this film amazes me, it also baffles me. By the end of the film, the characters are in a much different position from the beginning, and looking back it’s disorienting. There are so many strange sequences it’s hard to decipher what is just weird and what is important. There are also many plot threads that are not wrapped up by the end, such as the outcome of certain characters and what the Nagoya gang is up to.

This is disheartening because the setting created in the film is so fascinating, and the characters so interesting I wanted to learn more about the origins of every queer occurence. This explanation is not one audiences should expect to receive, however. 

But little of it is really needed, as the primary conflict is resolved by the end, no matter how stupefying. It is this very unsureness that makes “Gozu” so impactful, with creative and disturbing events that leave you asking ‘what the heck did I just watch?’   

“Gozu” by Takeshi Miike is bound to horrify and entertain you with its gory events and subtle frights. 

Featured screenshot by Andrea Mau via Takeshi Miike.

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