Liza, the Fox-Fairy is an odd, amusing little Hungarian film about a woman who believes she is a fox-fairy, a woman out of Japanese folklore who is fated to endure the death of any man who loves her. Liza believes this, because any man who shows romantic interest in her dies, often gruesomely. She searches for a way to break the curse. Liza is also haunted by the spirit of a Japanese lounge singer whose music she admires. She talks, sings, and dances with him to the bemusement of others around her, since she is the only one who can see him. He may have something to do with the deadly fate of her paramours.
Like I said, Liza, the Fox-Fairy is an odd movie. It is terrifically funny though and strangely sentimental as Liza tries to find a way out of her predicament. The many deaths are violent if stylized—imagine they were staged by Wes Anderson—and there is a touch of explicit sexuality, but the overall effect is endearing. It’s a fairy tale, after all, and those aren’t always the nicest stories even when they are hopeful in the end.
So often, cinematic love stories hinge on acts of selfless love, don’t they? Would—be lovers are forced to give themselves up and to surrender the one they want if they want to keep them. Horror stories often hinge on just the opposite – possession, demonic or otherwise. Villains and monsters in horror movies want to capture, keep, and, most disturbingly, consume the ones they want. Romance and horror are opposite ends of the same love-story spectrum.
That’s what makes Liza, the Fox-Fairy so compelling. It contains both extremes. There is a maleficent force out to get both Liza and the men who love her. There is also a selfless force out to set her free. The film brings those two thematic motivations face to face with one another and allows them to fight it out, metaphorically speaking, to determine which form of desire is most powerful. Of course, true love wins, because this is a love story after all. Like love, it just hardly ever looks like you expect it to look.
Liza, the Fox-Fairy is being featured in the 38th Denver Film Festival. More information and showtimes can be found here.