Onibaba is set during a brutal period in history, a Japan ravaged by civil war between rival shogunates. Weary from combat, samurai are drawn towards the seven-foot-high susuku grass fields to hide and rest themselves, only to be ambushed and murdered by a ruthless team of mother (Nobuko Otowa) and daughter-in-law (Jitsuko Yoshimura). When Hachi (Kei Sato), a neighbour returning from the wars, brings bad news, he threatens the women's partnership.
Onibaba is a stunning piece of cinema, my favourite Japanese film and I've certainly seen a few over the years. It is a simple film, with a small cast and setting that allows the storyline to prosper. A mother and daughter exist by attracting samurai warriors and killing them for their own needs. Living amongst a landscape of tall grass, only they seem to know their way around. Warriors weakened by combat cannot help but fall under their spell and once their guard is lowered, their end is only a matter of time. Things all change when a warrior with a distinctive mask falls into their clutches. This black and white film is full of powerful imagery and atmospheric traditional music. Despite being filmed in 1964 it surprises with the imaginative use of camera angles and rapid editing. The vivid world Shindo-san creates, will remain with you long after the film has finished.