Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Film Festivals, Film Reviews

VIFF 2010: Cold Fish

Cold Fish (Sono Shion, Japan) Dragons and Tigers

“This is based on a true story,” reads the opening credits. Well, they don’t so much announce as scream for attention, hacked into the screen like graffiti and punctuated with drum beats. Is it a warning? A dare? A pretense (a al Fargo)? And does is matter?

While it does make me curious to discover the reality behind the story (apparently something to do with a dog breeder more ferocious than his canines), it doesn’t really change my perspective on this seriously tweaked serial killer thriller with elements of farce, black comedy and social satire. While accurate, that description doesn’t really prepare you for this strange trip, which has a whiplash quality and yet is queasily measured and methodical, stretching out for almost 2 ½ hours that should be far too long yet somehow isn’t. The perspective is neither killer nor victim, but a meek bystander—the classic passive salaryman type—pulled into the gruesome games of death as audience, accessory and stooge, and perhaps in some twisted way a potential protégé for the veteran killer.

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