Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 20th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, January 27th, 1999
Director: Masato Harada
Writer: Masato Harada
Cast: Yuki Amami, Atsuro Watabe, Eugene Harada, Shiho Fujimura
DVD Released: November 23rd, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: DTS Japanese, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Adness/Ventura
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99
Synopsis: Akira Nutahara (Atsuro Watabe) a teacher arrives in a small rural village that is far removed from Tokyo’s modern day luxuries. Seiji Doi’s family runs a paper company the village’s largest business and he quickly forges a friendship with Akira. The women in the Bonomiya family protect the village from the Inugmai (evil dog spirits) and if they fail in their duty that can lead to bloodshed from the Inugmai. Miki (Yuki Amami) is a middle age woman who has spent her whole life in the village. Slowly her appearance starts to change after she fails in love with Akira. Strange things start to happen after Miki regains her youthful beauty which leads to rumors about her past and out right hostility from the towns’ people.
Even though Inugami deals in superstitions and has a few surreal dream sequences the primary goal of the film is not to frighten the viewer. Through out the film red herring’s are used to disguise the films ultimate message love. The films greatest strength is in its editing and through the use of flashback/dream montages that give us a deeper incite into Miki’s past. Asian films have always explored with taboo subjects and this film in no exception as it deals with Miki’s sexual relationships with two of her family members. Miki is an old maid who lost her the man she loved when she was younger and it is when she starts to remember her past when she starts to transform into the girl she used to be. This is also when things start to go wrong for everyone but her. Forcing to her once again being forced by those who are supposed to care about to give up her happiness in order to save their own skin. Even after she regains her beauty she still has trouble keeping her sanity leading to her losing what is most important to her Akira’s love. Yuki Amami’s is enchanting as Miki and through her subtle performance she creates a sympathetic character that you can’t help but fall in love with. This film has many peaks and valleys that lead to a satisfying conclusion were Miki finally finds what she has always been looking for.
Inugami is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film original aspect ratio. The overall look of the color palette is extremely pleasing with the wide variety of colors use to their fullest as this film was shot primarily on location. The flesh tones look natural and grain is kept to a minimum with no sign of artifacts. The film with fifteen minutes left goes from color to Black and White. This lasts for about ten minutes before it changes back to color.
Audio wise this DVD comes with two options Japanese DTS and Japanese Dolby Digital stereo. Both audio tracks are free of distortion or hiss and they make good use of the films ambient sounds. The DTS track is another pleasing remix from Adness as it adds to the films atmosphere by giving all the speakers a full work out. English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
The extras include the films original trailer as well as trailers for Isola, Shikoku and Shadow of the Wraith. It would have been nice to have some more info about the film this DVD comes up short in the extra department. In the audio/video department Adness once again get high marks for their transfer. Inugami is a intoxicating film that weaves a tapestry of deceit that will have you on the end of your seat tell the very last frame, highly recommended.