CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS
Is there a director more wildly variable and unpredictable than Takashi Miike? You never know what he's going to come up with next: cannibal musicals, surreal gangster movies, genuinely unsettling stories of obsession, bonkers live-action kids' cartoons, daft supernatural teen horrors, samurai epics, cardboard westerns, or just plain filth. When he's good he's very good, but when he's bad he's Gozu - when he's controlled or restrained (whether by the formula he's working to, by his own inclinations or by a producer's firm hand on his shoulder) he can be extraordinary but when he's just given free rein the results can become unbearable.
Happily, Over Your Dead Body is one of his best ones: a story of adultery and death played not just as a theatrical presentation of an ancient folk tale currently being rehearsed by actors, but unconsciously (?) mirrored by the same actors in their "real" lives. This spilling over of fiction into reality is actually pretty gripping and mostly well put together, though there were a few moments towards the end where I lost the thread of events, and Miike does put in one truly horrible sequence of self-administered violence which I wasn't sure was entirely justified.
That squirm moment aside, I was very pleasantly surprised by Over Your Dead Body. I have some inexplicable fondness for backstage movies anyway (unless they're musicals, of course) and the vast and detailed revolving set used for the group's rehearsals is an impressive location for the performance. It's not quite as good as the still-astonishing Audition, but it's easily one of Miike's best films and leagues better than his tiresome yakuza films. A bit like Noises Off! (well, maybe not much) but with blood and no laughs, this is well worth tracking down - it's already over a year old and sadly shows no sign as yet of making it to UK screens. I liked it a lot.