If you're looking for something on the bleaker side of life look no further. Based on Otsuichi's award-winning mystery novel, Goth: Love of Death follows two high school students, Itsuki and Yoru, who share a morbid fascination with dead bodies, human torture and murder. One day they find a strange notebook at a coffee shop, detailing the strange serial murder cases that have hit the area in recent times.
Itsuki and Yoru decide to track down the undiscovered victims so they can see the corpses for themselves – because that's what you do when you're not on Facebook. Rising stars Hongo Kanata (K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces) and Takanashi Rin (Rookies) play the troubled protagonists, and Takahashi Gen (Confessions of a Dog) directs this haunting, unique and refreshing take on the horror genre.
The opening act is light on conversation and low on bloodshed, teasing the viewer with a striking, often haunting musical score and some arresting imagery. It's beautiful at times too, whimsical even, and the elegant camerawork and subtle use of sound make a winning combination. As do Itsuki and Yoru, but we're not talking about your typical high school romance here, this is an altogether more sombre affair. Their relationship is – to put it mildly – complicated, and both actors do an excellent job of bringing their characters to life. Or death; whichever way you want to look at it.
That's not to say there aren't moments of traditional horror to be found, but they’re used both sparingly and effectively throughout. It's not that kind of movie. Love of Death is poetic and elegant where like minded movies might excel in high body counts, and strangely surreal is favoured over sexually suggestive every time. So whatever you do, don't go into this movie expecting bucket loads of gore and dumb teens screaming their lungs out. Approach it as a drama drowning in death and sorrow and you might come away as enthused as we did.
It's a slow, deliberate movie, perfectly content with taking its time. Unease builds as the two protagonists make their way to the truth, helped along by that stunning musical score, pitch perfect performances and effortless direction. There are twists to be discovered in the final act, both tragic and touching, but the film is a welcome breath of fresh air.
Thoughtful, well constructed and mercifully low on flying limbs, Goth: Love of Death doesn’t waste its time on serial killers pissed off at their parents, but the stunning musical score, fearless direction and affecting performances make for a refreshing change of pace. AW