The Demon (1978)

Kichiku or The Demon is a 1978 film by Yoshitarō Nomura, which examines child abuse and abandonment. Ken Ogata is masterful as a man whose mistress leaves him with their three children, and whose wife is none too pleased with the situation or with the new occupants of her home. Ogata won Best Actor at the Japanese Academy Awards and it’s easy to see why; he brings complexity and sympathy to a role that could easily have been a simple caricature.

It’s exceedingly rare for films to portray abuse to this extent, in a realistic manner, let alone to focus on it. Viewers should be aware that some of the imagery here is very intense. Hiroki Iwase is another standout as the six year old son (this is his sole film credit); his facial expressions and manner were remarkable in such a young actor. Fans of 70s Japanese cinema would probably want to see this, it’s a well-made film with first rate cinematography, but it’s difficult to imagine most people viewing it with anything but disgust.