Misinformation as a Theme

Though The Quiet Family does not share the surrealism of Happiness of the Katakuris, it still remains firmly in the genre of dark comedy, in part because of its misdirection. We see misdirection, specifically misinformation, in the scene in which the police officer is mistaken for the assassin.

In order to be the sole recipient of his father’s inheritance, Mr. Park, the previous owner of the Kang family’s lodge, has arranged for an assassin to kill his half sister, Eun-joon. Unfortunately for the Kang family, he wants to use the lodge as the location for the murder. Mr. Park tells Mr. and Mrs. Kang that the assassin will arrive exactly at midnight and that they should give him the room next to the half sister. Meanwhile, the police have become suspicious of the family and send an officer to stay at the lodge for a night so that he can report back the next day with his findings. The policeman arrives at midnight, and the father and mother, believing that he is the assassin, give him the room next to Eun-joon. The assassin, who lost his way due to a rainstorm, arrives fifteen minutes later. The brother, Young-min, thinking that he is an ordinary guest, makes him pay for the night’s lodging and gives him the room next to the policeman. Due to this mix up, the assassin kills the policeman and the brother kills the assassin.

The brother kills the assassin with a shovel
The brother accidentally kills the assassin with a shovel

This scene is an example of misinformation because the parents are interpreting the information correctly: an assassin will arrive precisely at twelve in the morning, and they are to give him his room key. The information they are presented with, however is incorrect; the assassin is late, and the policeman is the one to arrive at midnight. Because they are not told to expect the policeman and they do not continue working at the desk after giving the supposed assassin a room, there is no way for them to know that the policeman is not in fact the assassin. Though they do as they are instructed, things go awry- the policeman gets stabbed and the assassin is accidentally killed. Yet because of the nature of the confusion and our lack of connection to these characters, these deaths do not impact us greatly. What would otherwise be tragic is here merely comedic.

Similarly, in Happiness of the Katakuris, misinformation makes what could otherwise be tragic merely comedic in the scene where the uncle, Masayuki, is stabbed. When the police arrive, looking for a murderer, the man that the police are searching for comes out onto the porch, brandishing a knife to Terue’s throat. Terue’s husband tries to convince the murderer to let go of his wife, and he eventually  agrees to do so. However, the murderer then rushes toward Terue’s husband with the knife. Masayuki intercepts the knife blow to save his father. The family rushes toward the uncle when they see his hand over a wound in his side, covered in blood. Assuming the wound to be fatal, they gather together, exchange last words, and sing one more song. After Masayuki seemingly dies, the father checks his wound and realizes that the knife merely grazed Masayuki.

Masayuki seemingly dying from the stab wound
Masayuki seemingly dying from the stab wound

This scene in which Masayuki is stabbed in Happiness of the Katakuris is an example of misinformation because although he is seemingly dying from a stab wound, he is actually only slightly scratched. The misinformation that this scene provides shows that nothing is as simple as it seems, an overall theme of the dark comedy genre. Time and again, due to the incorrect information given in both The Quiet Family and in Happiness of the Katakuris, the characters- and occasionally the audience- are led to believe one thing when something entirely different is true, like the seriousness of Masayuki’s stab wound. These high stakes situations with potentially dire consequences are made trivial and comical for entertainment value.  Dark comedy as a genre seems to rely on the serious follies of the characters due to having incorrect information for their comedy.

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