Warning: I am most likely over-analyzing, but I just love this movie so much.
This is undoubtedly the weirdest film I have ever seen. But I say that in a good way, as I believe that a lot of its weirdness is really just a unique creativity in the mind of director Nobuhiko Ôbayashi. The amount of creativity consistently shocked me with its brilliancy, and makes use of the film medium's maximum potential. It uses special effects like mattes, animation, and blue screen. It morphs elements like aspect ratios, color grading, shutter speeds, and frame-rates. And uses storytelling techniques such as crosscutting, and films within the film. That said, it is sure to be seen by some as exactly what it is meant to parody: a cheesy, sexist, over-the-top, haunted house flick which contains no more brilliance than purposeless shots of underage teens running away in their panties. I feel that these views may be partially spurred by the seemingly unwieldy variety of genres and tones. Horror, kung-fu, romance, drama, and comedy are just a few of the genres the movie will be switching between intermittently.
What makes the movie special is found in the many moments in which these varying genres contradict, or even overlap. The use of its juxtaposition can be discovered straight away in the opening scene. The movie opens into an atmospheric setting filled with candles, beakers, and a cloaked woman staring directly at the camera. A simple piano lullaby can be heard, one that comes off as creepy when played behind such an ominous scene. However, the context is soon understood when the moody green color grading returns to life's normal vibrancy, the creepy lullaby transforms into a happy-go-lucky theme song, and the mysterious woman takes off her cloak. It was just a school girl posing for a photo-shoot with her friend photographer. Then the 2 girls talk about summer plans, and the photographer makes a comedic remark about how she looked like a 'witch'.
This type of unique foreshadowing appears all throughout the 1st and 2nd acts. Instead of normal foreshadowing where small omens are directly connected to the future event, in House, they have almost no logical connection to what it is hinting at in the future. There is no reason for the photographer to have any idea that her friend might be a witch, it was simply a joke. While the plot is very innocent and almost cliche, the tone comes off simply as creepy. I found that this creates a feeling that the movie itself is haunted, rather than the events in it.
This type of foreshadowing not only creates a unique tone for the film, but it also has a deeper meaning in (what I believe is) the deeper meaning. The film consistently involves the masking of troubles with blind optimism, and can be found in many other aspects of the film aside from foreshadowing and tone. An early example of this occurs after Gorgeous's widowed father introduces her to his new girlfriend and Gorgeous runs away. The next day all of the other girls are talking among themselves admiring their professor, while Gorgeous stands in the back. The alienation of her is obvious with Ôbayashi's use of the Looney Tunes/James Bond tunnel effect, but the other elements of the scene don't match this. The girls and the professor still take up most of the shot and the music is still upbeat, making it as if the other girls are the main story, and as though we too are ignoring Gorgeous. Many more examples of this theme can also be found throughout the 2nd act, which usually involves strange things happening to one of the girls, then the others trying to persuade them into believing that they were either mistaken or hallucinating and that the house is completely normal. In both the 2nd and 3rd act, all of the girls find their only hope in Mr. Togo coming and saving them, which never does happen. All of these fit in with the true meaning behind the title and house: that something as trustworthy and safe as a house could hold such horrible dangerous monsters. That something as innocent as a frail old lady or a beautiful young girl could be secretly possessed by an evil demon. It's, again, the masking of troubles with blind optimism.
Perhaps most ironically of all the things in this movie, is the fact that this very secretive, and very unique theme in the movie is at its core a more complicated version of the most stereotypical theme in the horror genre: the loss of innocence. Most of the aspects in the film are really just horror cliches executed in a unique style. Which is why I believe this film can be best described as a rehash of all the oldest cliches in horror, done with such creativity and brilliance as to make it it's own beast entirely.
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