this is the first movie i saw at the viff (now long over), and unfortunately for me, it was a lousy way to start of the festival.
the movie is about the hapless shamoto (the only character - other than the 2 cops - that realizes how fucked everything is), who runs a niche fish selling business. his daughter is a delinquent, his relationship with his new wife has dried up and he generally experiences existential dread. one day he meets murata, who also runs a fish business, though far more successful. he's very charming, funny and welcoming, and he also has a hot wife and drives a ferarri. conflict ensues when shamoto is dragged into murata's questionable methods of doing business (murdering the fuck out of anyone who might fuck with him).
it's without a doubt, one of the stupidest movies i've seen for a while. however, there were some things i like about it. i was happy with the camera work, the music, and definitely (most) of the acting. there were also certain scenes where i wanted to shout some variation of "FUCK YES" (such as when shamoto goes from pushover to BADASS MOTHERFUCKER in an instant). i was also pleased with the film's "you gotta be ruthless to get what you want" message.
the problem is without a doubt in the believability of the characters and the nonsense story, plus some other bits. i will spoil key story elements but it's a rather stupid movie anyway.
for one, sono shion pulls out every cheap japanese horror/psychological cliche in the book. the amount of fake blood used in this movie is disproportionate, tarantino used a shitload of blood in kill bill, but the crazy 88's fight scene had 88 dudes get sliced up, of course it's going to be bloody. cold fish uses the same amount of fake blood for maybe 4 deaths. there's also the classic "japanese flipout" which you'll be used to after seeing higurashi (i haven't seen it, but i've seen screenshots), evangelion, ichi the killer, etc. there's also this "smiling/laughing while murdering someone" bullshit i've seen a million times, it's not scary anymore, it clearly adds nothing to the substance of the movie and serves only as cheap shock value.
one of my biggest gripes with the movie is it's stupid ending. if the last 5 or 10 minutes of the movie were cut out, then i might have considered this movie mediocre. sadly, shions chosen ending make the film stupid. it's only positive was making it clear that passive shamoto had BECOME a more serious murata after he killed him. i was happy when shamoto kicked his ass, disciplined his hooligan daughter and addressed his wife with a stern, quiet "i know you fucked murata" (his next words were 'im going to rape you now').
but after this, he brings murata's corpse to the mountain to dispose of it, forcing his now-widowed wife to take care of it (all of a sudden she becomes stupid and complacent, it's as if her iq dropped 30 points, what the fuck?). then for some reason, shamoto decides to kill her (after feeling her up). his wife and daughter eventually come to the mountain after the police do, shamoto then murder's his wife, and then kills himself in front of his daughter, who then jumps up and down, happy that both her parents are dead. all of this nonsense seems to happen for no reason other than shock value and being different for difference's sake.
i will confess that the movie was somewhat entertaining, but profoundly stupid. all of the horror elements were only added to give the movie something to make it stand out, it doesn't provide any substance. only watch this movie if you consider yourself a japanese horror veteran.