Kuroneko ★★★★

Hooptober VIII, Ch. 21

"Catwoman: Origins"?

Exceedingly similar on the outset to Kaneto Shindo's earlier folk horror freak-out "Onibaba", but more of a tragedy, merging that film's gorgeously contrasting inky dark black and blindingly bright white hues and memory-staining imagery with a narrative that's part campfire tale, part yearning, fatalistic love story. Against the hubris of samurai, deep in the bamboo forest, is nestled a supernatural vengeance trap that somehow stirs pangs of Orpheus and Eurydice as well as New Order's "Love Vigilantes". There's some hair-raising low-key apprehension in things like the reveal of a furry human hand and the vampiric M.O. of these spirits, but a lot of it is just plain beautiful filmmaking - the fight in the reeds, a rider cutting across a shot of the sun towering majestically over the earth, the strange entrancing look of fire in monochrome, the home of the spirits as illuminated by fog bank and cascading shadow, snowfall burying the past - that also cuts into you emotionally. Has the power of a haunting half-remembered dream, and all of the artistic splendor of classic cinema. So alluring I had to watch it twice!

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