This film from 2010 is based on a true story about an unremarkable man, Shamoto, who ends up involved with a husband and wife team of serial killers. Shamoto lives with his new wife and his daughter who don’t get on with each other, and he runs a smallish shop that sells tropical fish. Then he meets the charismatic owner of a rival shop, Murata, who charms his family and convinces him to become a business partner. But when one of the people present at their first meeting, so begins a tale in which Murata finds himself partners in an entirely different business.
The quotes from reviews on the cover make it seem like a gore fest, but it’s not really. There are some bloody scenes, but nothing very shocking. The film is very sensual. The women are all attractive and are available to the men who are, frankly, not attractive. This film is all about power: the lack that Shamoto has at home, the abundance of it that Murata has over everyone he meets and the power that woman want from the men in their lives.
There's an interview on disc two from a journalist who covered the original killings which is pretty informative. It's definitely useful to know what in the film was true and what was the result of Sion Sono’s over-active imagination. Amazingly, most of it is true* apart from the change of the real killers' profession of dog-breeders to tropical fish sellers. This makes no difference to the story. I guess Sion Sono thought that fish are easier to deal with on a film set.
It’s a good film, and certainly worth watching. Watching Shamoto's helplessness in the face of increasing danger and being unable to trust anyone else, not even his family, is fairly grim. But fascinating.
* for those who don’t have the interview, it’s mostly true until the second scene on the bridge.