is hot in movies these days. Following hot
on the heels of The Avengers and Brave comes American expat filmmaker
John Cairns’ newest Japanese zombie movie.
Yes, it is just like those other films.
It even has animation. After
announcing itself to the western world at this year’s Fantasia Festival, Cairns’
Schoolgirl Apocalypse (trailer here) is now available
for your downloading pleasure at iTunes.
studies English in hopes leaving her provincial home for America. She also practices Kyūdō at school. Her sensei is less than encouraging, but to
be fair, he has just turned into a zombie.
Apparently, this has happened to all the males formerly living in her
coastal prefecture. After several
harrowing experiences with friends and family members, Sakura reaches a state
of near emotional collapse. However, she
receives encouragement from Billy, the ginger haired boy from her beginning
English book suddenly appearing in her animated dreams. Following his subconscious guidance, Sakura
finds the corporal Billy, his blind nurse, and their tormentor, the psychotic
Aoi. Then things get complicated. Arrows will be involved.
not to like about a Japanese schoolgirl going William Tell on a horde of
rampaging zombies? Yet, despite the
sailor suit uniforms, Cairns is not indulging in the sort of fetishism one
might suspect (sorry to disappoint). Giving
the battle of the sexes theme a decidedly twisted twist, Apocalypse is surprisingly existential and self-disciplined. Indeed, it is rather skillfully executed,
especially during the early scenes, as Sakura struggles to figure out the
horror slowly unfolding around her. Cairns
uses silences, weird electronic sound effects, and the eerie emptiness of rural
Japan to unsettling effect. However, it
is the trippy animated dream sequences that will really creep you out, evoking
long repressed childhood memories of The
Yellow Submarine and H. R. Pufnstuf.
idol Higarino (a.k.a. Rino Higa) is also solidly engaging as the put-upon teen
finding the wherewithal to survive. It
could even be considered empowering work for the target geek audience. This isn’t exactly an acting showcase sort of
film, but Mai Tsujimoto is convincingly fierce as Aoi, while the rest of the
cast is game enough when it comes to getting bloody and dying.
truth, Apocalypse liberally borrows
elements of other genre films that would be spoilery to mention. Though not quite as bloody as one might
expect, it should well satisfy both zombie and archery fans. Very dark but still fun, Schoolgirl Apocalypse is certainly worth checking out from the
comfort of your laptop, where it is now available on digital VOD platforms,
Labels: Higarino, Horror Movies, Japanese Cinema, Zombies