Friday, November 18, 2016

Film Review: Why Don't You Play in Hell? (2013)

Why Don't You Play in Hell? (Review)
Japan/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"If you're looking for a dark comedy with plenty of gore, laughs, and twists and turns, this is for you."

A Yakuza boss forces an amateur film crew to make a movie starring his runaway daughter...

Why Don't You Play in Hell? is a bizarre movie – a mixture of comedy, romance, drama, and horror. The film starts off a bit rough, simultaneously introducing us to several groups: the Muto crime family – which includes Mitsuko (Fumi Nikaido) – the Ikegami crime family, the Fuck Bombers, which is a crew of amateur filmmakers, and Koji, a young teen who falls for Mitsuko due to a simple commercial. Fast forward ten years, Mitsuko isn't a big star, Muto is trying to repair his family, the Fuck Bombers haven't made a successful film, and the Ikegami family is still active. So, without any options, Muto decides to make a film with his daughter as the lead actress, and he uses Koji and the Fuck Bombers to do so. It's much more complicated than that, but it eventually irons itself out. It all leads to a gory climax and a solid ending.


Why Don't You Play in Hell? can at times be confusing, but that's part of its charm. This is a Sion Sono film after all. Sono movies tends to be bizarre but effective. Like I said, this is a mishmash of comedy, romance, drama, horror, crime... everything. And, it all comes off as naturally bizarre. It works. It keeps you on your toes, never expecting the next twist or turn. The bloodbath at the end completely caught me off guard. (And I'm not spoling anything by telling you about it.) The ending itself made me wonder if I was daydreaming. It is that effective. If you're a fan of dark and bizarre comedies, this is for you. It's not perfect – note the occasionally confusing storytelling and bloated runtime – but it is very fun and exciting. I think it's especially funny for those of us with die-hard passions for movies and filmmaking.

The acting was also great. Jun Kunimura, Hiroki Hasegawa, and Fumi Nikaido are fantastic. Yes, the performances are over-the-top, but that's what they're supposed to be. And they aren't bad in any other way anyway. The cast is solid. The cinematography and camerawork are great. The music choice is perfect for the film. There is a noticeable use of computer blood, but I can excuse it thanks to some of its better effects. The film was written and directed by Sion Sono, who also directed Tokyo Tribe and Strange Circus. His writing could use some work to fix the flow – or maybe it just needed better editing. Otherwise, Sono is as creative, compelling, and entertaining as ever.

Overall, Why Don't You Play in Hell? is a great movie. If you're looking for a dark comedy with plenty of gore, laughs, and twists and turns, this is for you. If you're a fan of Sion Sono, you will not be disappointed. However, if you don't enjoy bizarre movies, this might not be for you.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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