- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Greatful Dead

Also known as:
Gureitofuru deddo (Original title)

Year: 2013

Genre: Drama / Thriller / Comedy

Language: Japanese

Runtime: 97 min

Director: Eiji Uchida

Writer: Eiji Uchida & Etsuo Hiratani


Nami is a loner with a troubled background. She now spends her days by spying on strange, lonely and misunderstood people who she refers to as "Solitarians". One day she discovers an old man who lives alone, and she becomes obsessed with him.

Our thoughts:
Third Window Films are one of my main distributors to trust when it comes to Asian cinema. They release a ton of great movies that often are under the radar, and their customer service is just excellent. When "Greatful Dead" was announced from them, I knew it would be something interesting and I wasn't wrong. It's a movie that jumps between sappy drama (in a good way), relentless horror and quirky comedy, without ever making it feel like it took a turn. It sort of just implements the genres one by one, slowly, so that it seems completely logical that you were laughing in the beginning and feeling tense by the end.

Eiji Uchida starts off as a wonderfully off-beat comedy, about a young woman who gets excited by looking at strange loners. Growing up, she had to live with her father who was so sad over her mother's passing that he only cared about finding an outlet through another woman - paying no attention to his daughter. After her father's death, she inherited his fortune and can now spend the days with her hobby. She keeps a diary of every odd person she sees, the kind of people that she refers to as "Solitarians". When she finds a completely new kind of Solitarian, she gets an almost euphoric reaction. One day she finds a has-been famous man who lives alone with no one to care for him, and she becomes obsessed by him. In fact, she's so obsessed with him that she won't allow anyone to get close to him. He belongs to her.

The main attraction to "Greatful Dead" is truly that it's such a bleak movie while still managing to be fun. There are moments that are truly sad, and some that have you cringing, but yet it's entertaining. That's not to say that the movie doesn't carry any emotional power. The movie is very powerful in its genre-bending, and the more fun moments make it easier to care for the characters than you do in a completely dark story.

While "Greatful Dead" might not be the greatest Japanese film, I can't say it can be compared to many. Eiji Uchida and Etsuo Hiratani have created a fantastic piece of cinema that makes it very fun to get into it, but progressively more twisted the closer to the end that you get. It has many surprises and never gets dull as it always moves towards a wonderful resolution. Don't miss out on this demented, cheerful ride. I can't wait to get into more movies by Eiji Uchida.

Positive things:
- Kumi Takiuchi is perfect as Nami.
- Cheerful, funny, dark and violent.
- Always progresses into new areas.

Negative things:
- I don't have anything negative worth noting.

Gore: 2.5/5
Nudity: 1/5
Story: 3.5/5
Effects: 3/5
Comedy: 2.5/5

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