Due to the overall theme of misdirection, both the films, The Quiet Family and Happiness of the Katakuris, clearly fit into the dark comedy genre. By looking at this theme of misdirection in several scenes from each movie, we examined both misinformation and altered perspective. To discuss misinformation we used the scene from The Quiet Family in which the police officer is mistaken for the assassin, and the scene from Happiness of the Katakuris in which Masayuki is stabbed and “dies.” To discuss altered perspective, on the other hand, we used the scene with the gardening tools chase from The Quiet Family and the scene in which the great grandfather offers himself to the police in Happiness of the Katakuris. These two components of misdirection not only reflect this overall theme, but also show the parallels between the two films and the genre as a whole.
While The Quiet Family and Happiness of the Katakuris are both dark comedy films, they do accomplish different goals. Overall, The Quiet Family satirizes the horror genre as well as criticizes self-inflicted naiveté. Obvious risky behavior such as believing that the lodge will work, trusting in strangers, thinking that things will work themselves out, and hoping that no one will ask questions about the dead guests are all types of naiveté that the films deal with.
Similarly, in horror films, characters also behave in risky ways, such as entering their house alone when there are obvious signs of an intruder and asking, “Is somebody there?” instead of running away. However, because The Quiet Family is satirizing the horror genre, the film has a comedic twist to its many potentially scary scenes that feature corpses, blood, and bludgeoning.
Happiness of the Katakuris, on the other hand, subverts the dark comedy genre conventions to misdirect the audience; the characters in this film experience misdirection within the plot while the audience experiences misdirection in subjective views. The most prominent example of subverting genre conventions lies in this film’s inclusion of song and dance, atypical of the dark comedy genre. The mix of musical numbers and death create a level of ridiculousness that compounds The Quiet Family‘s comedic take on death.
Happiness of the Katakuris also establishes the expectation that every guest will die when they stay at the inn, only to rupture it when one family survives their stay. This rupture is comical because in conventional dark comedies, the audience is oversaturated with death, and thus becomes numb to it. Consequently, when the family survives, it is funny. By playing with dark comedy genre conventions, Happiness of the Katakuris gives the film a very different tone from that of The Quiet Family– one that is ridiculous for the sake of rupturing the audience’s expectations.
Both The Quiet Family and Happiness of the Katakuris fit into the genre of dark comedy while maintaining their own agendas. Despite the dire consequences in these films, their humor overshadows the seriousness of the story; The Quiet Family maintains its witty banter even in cases of premeditated murder, while Happiness of the Katakuris incorporates song and dance numbers even in the face of death. Through one lens, what happens in the two films might be considered tragic, but in these cases, it is funny; the ways in which we see things are entirely subjective, and even the darkest material can be seen from another perspective.