Danger Stalks Near (1957)

In the Japanese countryside, three thieves wait outside of a house, plotting to break in.

danger stalks near criterion cover
(Image via Letterboxd)

Unfortunately for them, the house is busier than expected. Along with the extended family, there are lodgers, and friends stopping by every other minute. There seems to be no perfect time to carry out their crime!

As the criminals watch the house, the family’s own dramas carry on inside, oblivious to the threat that looms.

Danger Stalks Near was written and directed by Keisuke Kinoshita.

My goal was to watch as much Kinoshita as possible before FilmStruck closed, but this ended up being my final watch. I’m desperately hoping his work reappears on the revived Criterion Channel — but if it takes me longer to hunt down more of Kinoshita’s work, I’m glad I got the chance to catch this one.

Of all the Kinoshita films I’ve watched, I found Danger Stalks Near the least captivating, but the more I thought about it after watching, the more interesting it became to me. As much as I would have loved for it to be told as a truly dark and tense crime thriller, Danger Stalks Near continues a commentary I’ve enjoyed experiencing from several other Kinoshita films: the state of life in post-war Japan.

More attention is paid to the family occupying the house than to the criminals or their potential crime. The film has no stand-out performers — it’s a family ensemble through and through. Sometimes, it plays like a sitcom; in other moments, it offers a clear representation of the growth of consumerism and greed (shadowed by the growth of crime).

danger stalks near still
(Image via The Tokyo Files)

A quick watch and quite evenly-paced, Danger Stalks Near does pick up speed near the end, becoming more action-packed and energized. There’s even a bit of slapstick at the very end, which I found delightful.

While perhaps not entirely up to par with Kinoshita’s other work, Danger Stalks Near is still a worthwhile watch, offering a blend of social commentary, crime, comedy, and family drama.

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