Ravaged House: Zoroku's Disease 2004 2006 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
Ravaged House is one of the six films making up Hideshi Hino’s Theater of Horror collection. Hideshi Hino, in case you don’t know, is acclaimed as Japan`s master of horror manga, a crown he has earned over the course of a career spanning forty-plus years - and counting. This film is a pretty strident reminder for me to get my hands on some of Hino’s work, much of which has now been published in the West. The original manga surely offers the most telling insight into the mind of this genius, whose imaginary worlds are of the most macabre and disturbing nature, much of it inspired by Hino’s own life experiences. Hino has shocked fans in film as well as in print - if you’ve ever heard of the infamous Guinea Pig films, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Hino’s first contribution, Guinea Pig Flower of Flesh and Blood/Making of Guinea Pig Double Feature, was so realistic that Charlie Sheen (admittedly not the sharpest knife in the drawer) reportedly mistook it as an actual snuff film and contacted the MPAA about it - and they in turn called the feds.
A far cry from frightening, Ravaged House is more depressing and disturbing than anything else. It is, as the subtitle indicates, the story of Zoroku’s Disease. The setting is a rural Japanese home where Zoroku lives with his parents and younger sister Haruko. Brother and sister are very close, but this happy home gets turned upside down when Zoroku suddenly falls victim to some kind of horrible disease. Almost overnight, his skin has decayed if not melted into the most horrible of states - he actually squishes when he moves even the slightest bit - and he is in constant gut-wrenching pain. Don’t go thinking this is a gory movie, though, as Zoroku’s appearance is covered up for the most part and never used for shock value by skilled director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri. Still, the absolute horror of Zoroku’s disease is made quite plain. As much as I fear death, I would be longing for that ultimate release were I in Zoroku’s place.
Zoroku’s father tries to ignore and ultimately hide the truth of his son’s condition from a community beginning to fear that a deadly contagious disease is hiding in their midst. His mother attempts to care for her horribly disfigured son, but even she does not display the unconditional love Haruko has for her unfortunate brother. She eventually becomes Zoroku’s only real defender against his (and her) own parents as well as a community frightened of the monster the young man has become. That’s no formula for a happy ending, yet the film’s culminating scenes are even more tragic and unsettling than I expected.
There’s nothing fun about any aspect of Ravaged House. It is a tale of love, suffering, isolation, and sacrifice, punctuated by several displays of man’s baser nature. Almost no words are spoken in the final twenty minutes, yet every one of those moments is intense and revealing. Given that fact, it should come as no surprise when I say that some highly skilled acting is on display here. If you come to this movie expecting just another Japanese horror film, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised if not amazed by the nuances of the story, the beautiful cinematography, and the emotional power of this memorable tragic film. They certainly don’t make them like this in Hollywood.