Kuroneko (Black Cat) is the first Criterion movie I watched for 2012 and it did not disappoint. I’ve always enjoyed Japanese cinema and while many may think of Kurosawa as THE Japanese moviemaker to watch, films like Kuroneko are proof that branching out yields great results.
The movie is part ghost story, part samurai tale, part revenge flick and the sum is a bit familiar today but engrossing from start to finish. A young woman and mother are brutally raped and killed and come back as feline-like apparitions to avenge their untimely deaths. A nearby official decides he’s had enough ghosts killing people and sends in more people to get rid of them. Obviously, they are also killed.
While we, the viewers, know the girl and her mother are ghosts, the men also seem to know but don’t care. They seduce the girl and then are killed. Maybe they forget or are under some ghost spell? I’m not sure but when things take a twist I was left wondering how things would end.
Definitely a solid story and most likely a precursor for many other Asian horror movies to come. I wish I knew more about the meanings of some of the things (e.g. why does the black cat have these powers?) but having questions about a movie usually makes me enjoy it all the better.
While not ‘scary’ in a modern sense of horror movies, visually it is quite eerie at times. As with most Criterion Collection films, the package is worth it and the level of care given to the restoration is aces. Kuroneko will be something I will want to watch again around Halloween.
I give it 4 sake drinking samurai out of 5.