Men – you’d think we’d have learned this by now, but do not step out on your marriage.

Do not. Step out. On your marriage.

OVER YOUR DEAD BODY follows a structure where one story mirrors another story.

On one side, we have a play being performed – “Yotsuya Kaidan” – which features all of the usual trappings of traditional drama. By that, I mean to say that there is plenty of lust, betrayal, and murder to go around. If you’re the sort who wants more than that from your nineteenth century Japanese drama, then you’re in luck; the films gets into the paranormal too. The movie spends much of its runtime watching dress rehearsals of this play, and allowing full scenes to play themselves out.

On the other side, the actors within the play are involved in their own situation of lust and betrayal. To that end we watch as the lead actor in the play is tempted away from his longterm girlfriend by her understudy. This sends his girlfriend into a psychotic spin which may or may not involve some heinous violence (you can’t always believe what you see). It also sends the actor down a dark road as its clear that his girlfriend won’t take things laying down.

Of course, this being a Takashi Miike movie, that means the actor should be afraid…very afraid.

What’s curious about OVER YOUR DEAD BODY is that it feels rather one-note, and feels content to hammer that one note for its full runtime. What one makes of this film will depend entirely on how they take to “Yotsuya Kaidan” since the movie spends long stretches on the stage with this play. The context isn’t always clear, and the dramatic thrust isn’t always sharp, but we go back there anyway. Often. And for long periods of time.

On the other hand, when we’re allowed to spend time in the contemporary world these characters inhabit, things tend to get fascinating in a hurry. For starters, much of this film is dead quiet, allowing every tap and scratch to echo through the soundtrack. That silence can be deafening, and heighten the unnerving nature of many scenes. If tricky audio cues don’t do it for you, then crazy visuals will, and I promise you – this film has a good variety of crazy visuals.

I can’t help but feel that OVER YOUR DEAD BODY is a missed opportunity for Miike. I like the idea of echoing what’s happening in the play with what’s happening in the real world (and plenty of films have done this before), but it feels as though the balance is off. A little less of the former, and a little more of the latter might have made this movie far more cutting. As it stands though, it presents itself rather toothless.