Cold Fish is a nightmarish trip into insanity, and this means that each moment brings unexpected reaction from the insane characters. There is no guessing what may happen next, making the suspense horrifying in the same fashion as Takashi Miike’s Audition. There is some violence and plenty of blood, but this film is horrifying for other reasons. It is the pleasant nature of the disturbed characters which makes their violence stand apart from other horror movies.
Co-written and directed by Sion Sono (Suicide Club), Cold Fish is an epic horror film which begins ominously even in a simple scene of dinner preparation. Each moment of this 145 minute domestic horror drama is unnerving and unexpected, so that the violence almost comes as a release from the tension preceding it. And the final resolution of violence is even more freeing, because at a certain point we are glad simply to see the cycle of brutality finished.
The story follows Shamoto, a man who owns a humble fish shop that is suddenly turned around when he is befriended by the owner of a much more successful fish store. This luxury shop is run by a friendly man and his wife, who offer the Shamoto’s daughter a job after she is caught shoplifting one evening. This small favor puts Shamoto in debt to the man he known nothing about, and soon finds himself caught in a web of murder and madness.