YIDFF 2015 Yamagata and Film
Chô Kowasugi!—Shivering Files of the Supernatural Phenomenon FILE-02  Super Horror Story of a Snake Woman
An Interview with Shiraishi Koji (Director)

A New Challenge

Q: The film opens with a series of amateur video clips, a sequence that goes on for so long that I thought maybe that’s how the film will end. What was your intention behind allowing “contributed” footage to take up half the film?

SK: I always want audiences to see something different, to enjoy anew. That’s why I structured this in a different way from previous films of this series, to open abruptly with amateur video and keep at it one after the other. For fans who were expecting the security of the usual form, it was maybe an uncomfortable viewing experience, but I hope they were able to discover a new thrill somewhere along the way.

Q: So you were going for an unpredictable uneasiness over the safety of the guaranteed format?

SK: I did try to avoid the predictable format. Overall there has to be an understanding where the film is going, but I have a fundamental desire to override taboos. Also, I wanted to try a bit of cinematic flair in this film. I used less title text than in other series films. I opened the film with the amateur videos without any explanatory text, and just threw the footage at the audience. There’s no tender loving care in this kind of rather crude approach, but I wanted the viewers to discover the cinematic joy of thinking and imagining for themselves, without being pampered. I wanted to throw a bucket of cold water over the heads of those who are complacent with the conventional entertainment this series has offered and invite them to new approaches to entertainment.

Q: What do you mean by cinematic?

SK: You have to be focused when you watch it, or else you’ll get lost. For example, in the boy-and-girl scene, I am trying to show something that is not in the dialogue—something you have to figure out in combination with the expressions on the characters’ faces. You have to watch carefully or else you’ll miss what that emotion is really telling you. If you are just following the dialogue or looking at a scene in general, you won’t be able to enjoy the essence of it all.

Q: This film deals with romance, a first in the series. Why love?

SK: Similar to my thinking about the form of the film, I wanted to take up a new theme to challenge discovery. We had never really dealt with romantic relationships or the emotions that come along with that. We never treated love itself as a major theme until this episode. For this first time attempt, we set up Sakurai, the guy who shoots the amateur video, to be kind of a counterpart for director Kudo. Sakurai plays the role of introducing the characters, the functional character that you always find in manga. By first setting up the character who sent in the footage and then showing how the director Kudo starts to approach him, I thought the relationship could build the film up into something new in the series.

As the couple, we decided on a beautiful girl and a dorky guy. If both were good-looking the setup would be so commercial and anyway unrealistic. We thought casting a middle-aged man would make the relationship look kind of sick (in a good way) and also sad, so we ended up with a love story between an older guy and young girl.

(Compiled by Takahashi Asuka)

Interviewers: Takahashi Asuka, Tanaka Minemasa / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Hirai Mona / Video: Iwata Kohei / 2015-10-12