Ahhh, Takashi Miike. For a long time one could just assume that if you were a horror fan or geek, you'd already seen this. But it's been ten years now. Newer and shinier Japanese horror has come, gone, and been mulched into tweener entertainment. Newer Japanese horror conforms to standard plot structure and pacing.
Takashi Miike thinks standard plot structure and pacing are for little girls.
The first time I saw this movie was during a Japanese Horror Film Marathon on DirectTv. I'd just gotten a big-screen, my friend Mike and Lovely Wife sat down to grab some late night horror.
For a while it's ... kind of a romantic comedy. A Widower, still devastated by his wife's death a decade earlier, is urged by his teen-age son to start dating again. His cheerfully amoral TV producer friend concocts a cunning plan. They'll hold auditions for an imaginary TV series in order for our sweet, likable but socially awkward Widower to meet young women.
If by hijinks, you mean staring at the screen, screaming "What the fuck? WHAT THE FUCK?"
It happens in a moment, in one shot, a tectonic shift in the movie. The train goes off the rails. And the train is on fire, and full of dynamite and naked clowns who live under your bed.
Be aware -- the pacing is glacial, and this is not a shock-horror movie. It's a slow accretion of creepiness. Do not even bother to watch this while there's daylight. This is meant to be watched at midnight, uninterrupted, to let it wash over you. For a good half the viewers, it'll be a "meh." For the half who find just the right night, it's a mood, a tone poem of unease.
No spoilers in the Comments, but feel free to recommend some other horror fun.