Cold Fish (2010)
directed by Sion Sono
This is one fantastic psychological horror film. Nobyuki, owner of a tropical fish store in Tokyo, is a humble man trying to do the best he can for his family. His first wife had passed away and he has remarried, to the ire of his teenage daughter, Mitsuko. She is rebellious and has no interest in making peace with her stepmother.
One evening, after dinner, Nobyuki gets a phone call from the manager of a local market. His daughter has been caught shoplifting. Upon arrival, he begs the manager not to involve the police. Luckily, the store owner, Yukio Murata, arrives and decides not to press charges. He is a successful businessman and also the owner of a giant Tropical Fish Super-store called, Amazon Gold. He takes a liking to the family. He is very friendly, always smiling, and understanding. He welcomes Nobyuki and his family into his home, store and life. He offers Mitsuko a job at his store, promising to provide structure and skills she will need for a good future. He offers Nobyuki to be in on a tropical fish business deal that will make them both a good sum of money. It seems too good to be true. It is. Behind that big smile and jovial façade lies a dark secret. Murata is a psychotic.
Soon, Nobyuki is tangled in Murata’s web of lies, an accomplice to murder, and manipulated by the overbearing man. He is plunged into a life of horrors. You can sense a real struggle ensue in Nobyuki. He tries to retain the honest family man he was, as he is influenced by Murata into a dark place in life. There is so much more to this film, but I’ll refrain so as not to be a complete spoiler. It is a gripping story, of sex, blood and horror on an insane level
I’m sure not everyone would give this such a high rating. Something about the movie really spoke to me. Perhaps it’s being a jaded New Yorker and not trusting people that are too nice or smiles that are too big. Whatever the reason, I found this to be one of the best J-horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Despite its insanity, it feels so real. It is loosely based on a true story of husband and wife pet shop owners in Tokyo. Don’t miss it!
An excellent horror tale of manipulation and terror validating the uneasiness towards people who are too friendly.
I give it 5.0 dead guppies on the scale of upside-down floating and bloated fish.