Netflix silently releases new Takashi Miike film Lumberjack the Monster

Was Netflix's release of "Lumberjack the Monster" made without announcement in the name of inscrutable marketing tactics or sheer laziness?

The newest horror feature from Miike slowly lumbered onto Netflix in late May. Despite Miike's cult following and the film's guaranteed audience, Netflix didn't bother to frantically wave it's arms around at all. Instead, a viewer looking for "Ichi the Killer" might stumble upon arborist horror from the same director intead. The discovery may come as a pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

The big fear for directors – any directors, not just the notable ones – is that being released straight to streaming is roughly the equivalent of tying an anchor to your leg and jumping overboard. Release a movie into cinemas and your only competition are the other movies that have been released at the same time. But debut on Netflix and suddenly you're competing against every piece of filmed content ever made. Even if you miraculously manage to conjure up a scrap of buzz, a day or two later you'll be replaced by something else. You've dedicated years of life to a project, miraculously turning it from nothing to something with your bare hands, only to find that nobody can find it on the platform because of all the ads for Is It Cake?. No wonder Doug Liman threw such a tantrum when Amazon told him that Road House would go straight to streaming.

It's hard not to think of Orson Welles here. For decades, his unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind was spoken about in near-mythic terms. It was complicated, the rumours went. It was autobiographical. Experimental. If only Welles had completed it, it would have easily stood shoulder to shoulder with his best work. So in 2014, decades after the death of Welles, Frank Marshall and Peter Bogdanovich attempted to finally complete it. It was a laborious and painstaking task, requiring half a million dollars of crowdsourced money to help complete it. And then Netflix bought it, and almost immediately made it impossible to find. When it was released in 2018, The Other Side of the Wind was hidden away in a submenu, buried beneath no end of romcoms and reality shows. It's the closest thing that Hollywood had ever come to replicating the final shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Stuart Heritage, The Guardian

Obviously, titilation is a huge selling point in horror and driving clicks, so it would make sense for Netflix to push gore/psychological horror master Miike's film out of the dregs of some forgotten submenu and promote it in some way. If not for fanfare and higher viewcounts, why would Netflix license the film? Bragging rights?

Takashi Miike's films are really, really violent, probably too much for some people to handle, but the excess blood, guts and saturated style are what make Miike a household name in cult circles. Lumberjack the Monster marks Miike's long-awaited return to pure horror, Netflix would do well to give it a drumroll. Or at least a foreboding bass.