The premise of Onibaba has the ring of folklore: in feudal Japan, two women - a mother and her daughter-in-law - manage their hardscrabble existence on a marshy plain by luring errant samurai to their deaths and selling off their wear. The bodies are disposed of in the title void, a remarkably deep - possibly bottomless - abyss. Two events unsettle their lives: a male neighbor returns from battle, taking up with the younger woman (technically the wife of the older woman's son); and the older woman procures from a samurai a peculiar mask (the film's secondary symbol), an item that soon develops a character of its own.
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