31 Days of Horror: COLD FISH

They say there are two types of serial killers: organized and disorganized. An organized killer typically is charismatic, charming and always at the ready. A disorganized killer, however, isn’t as prepared, nor are they the kind to make a plan and end up striking whenever.

Filmmaker Sion Sono commonly uses these archetypes when creating his maniacs. From Suicide Club‘s organized, seductively cunning internet killer, to Love Exposure‘s disorganized, abused Yōko; Sion Sono has made a name for himself by showcasing serial killers in outlandish and insane — even for killers — fashion. As outlandish as his films typically are, Sono’s insane and depraved archetype examinations can probably be best seen in 2010’s Cold Fish.


When his rebellious teenage daughter is caught stealing merchandise at the local grocery store, her father / exotic fish store owner, Syamoto, and her step-mother are called into the store. Thankfully for the family, charismatic Murata overhears the manager’s wails and steps in to assist. After settling the dispute, the joyful and charming Murata insists they come visit his store — a much bigger and more successful exotic fish store than Syamoto’s.

Murata quickly gains their trust and admiration, offering a job and a place to stay for the troublesome girl. Unfortunately, it’s quickly learned that Murata isn’t just a happy-go-lucky fish store owner, but not before roping shy and soft-spoken Syamoto into his psychotic and manipulative web.

In standard Sono fashion, Cold Fish is stylishly shot and fast-paced, leaving the viewer completely entranced by the deplorable world he has created. The build is steady yet rapid, starting with an average husband and wife with their average recalcitrant child and hastily pulling the rug from underneath the viewer. Before fully understanding who the central characters are, though, we learn they’re each deceptive and devious; leaving only the rapscallion of a teenager as the honest and true person in the story.

Cold Fish is made to keep viewers on their feet. Perceptions change in an instant, and their actions only become more reprehensible as the story progresses. Lewd and despicable sexual acts, and repulsive, calculated murders are uncomfortable to watch, instinctively connecting the viewer closer emotionally through empathy and despair to the story’s main character, Syamoto.

Gore & Scares

Superlatively gory and brutal, Cold Fish may be a more tame shock horror film — particularly in comparison to some of his earlier features — but it isn’t lackadaisical on the blood and guts. Perhaps most chilling is watching the enjoyment and everyday attitudes coming from the killers, shown in perfect Sono fashion as several average people, committing some horrible deeds.

Unfortunately for this reviewer, the film wasn’t as gory or shocking as previously led to believe. Instinctively, seeing the name “Sion Sono” met with the words “gory” and “shocker” call back horrific, traumatizing flashbacks from his other work. In the end, although there is definitely a great deal of gruesomeness shown, it is ultimately rather tame for a Sono feature.


As earlier stated, Cold Fish definitely feels like a Sono movie, but is mildly more tame than his other films. However, between a psychotic story and cast of characters, and the impression it leaves after watching, Cold Fish is certainly one of his most memorable films to date. In the end, it may not be as amazing as the typical, bizarre Sion Sono fare — see Suicide Club, Exte: Hair Extensions, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? — but it was an enjoyable watch even without the wow factor, nonetheless.

3 out of 5 stars

3 out of 5 stars

Cover image via


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Japanese Films/TV


Founder, Editor-in-Chief at Another Castle | Twitter: @ComradeJen

Stay Connected

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

4 Comments on “31 Days of Horror: COLD FISH”

  1. Victor Aragon
    10/07/2014 at 5:49 PM #

    I’ve never heard of this, but now I want to see it.

  2. 10/07/2014 at 5:54 PM #

    Ha! Awesome! Check out Sono’s ‘Why Don’t You Play in Hell?’ while you’re at it; that one was amazing.

  3. 02/19/2015 at 5:26 PM #

    Reblogged this on Rice Cakes.


  1. 10 Must-See Japanese Films on Netflix Instant Queue | Another Castle - 11/01/2014

    […] Already watched Battle Royale and are looking for another gory shocker? Try Cold Fish. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: