Directed by Yuichi Onuma
Distributed by AsiaVision
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Not Rated. Recommended for mature audiences
By Jon Minners
You ever had a best friend who never steered you wrong. You cannot imagine yourself not being their friend and then they go out and change their look somehow and end up looking horrible. They turn to you and say, “What do you think?” and you must decide whether to spare their feelings or be a real friend and tell them the truth. I am in the middle of that situation right now.
Urban Vision has always been a friend to me. I could always count on them for some of the best anime titles; whether it is Vampire Hunter D, Ninja Scroll: The Series or Golgo 13. They nail it every single time and when they decided to create a new live-action Asian film imprint, I was excited for that very reason. They never steered me wrong before and Azumi already looks like it will be a great film when that comes out. Then they released Hideo Nakata’s Curse, Death & Spirit and their streak remained intact. Now, I am faced with the misfortune of having to tell them about their latest film, the brutal Japanese slasher film Kill Devil. “What do you think?” Do you really want to know?
Releasing on April 4, 2006, Kill Devil, directed by Yuichi Onuma (The Suicide Manual 2: Intermediate Stage) and starring Japanese television stars Yoshika Kato (Karmen Rider 555) and Masahiro Kuranuki (Water Boys) is slated as a violent, futuristic shocker involving teenagers who are unwilling participants in an experiment involving a murder gene. Scientists analyzing the link between DNA and criminal behavior isolate a specific gene that marks one in 7,500 youths as a potential killer. In the year 2025, the government decides to send juveniles with this murder gene to an uninhabited island in the Pacific under a premise of rehabilitation. Conducting various studies to determine the ferocity of the hidden gene, they unleash murder impulses in each student, and one by one, set them on the rest of the group. The only hope of surviving is in being the last one alive.
This is what Gabriel Vicuna, sales director of Urban Vision had to say about the film; “Kill Devil has the style and feel of a classic indie horror film with its non-stop pace and in-your-face violence, reminiscent of the genre’s favorites. The film will appeal to the mass audience by combining a traditional slasher story with an Asian twist that will keep the audience guessing until the end.”
I find myself in the unfortunate position where I have to disagree. I didn’t find the film to be non-stop or in-your-face and considering that the original Japanese title, Kill Onigokko, takes its name from the Japanese version of the game “Tag” – an ironic twist on a child’s game that ends as a murderous hunt, I was disappointed by the fact that there was not enough killing or “tagging” in the movie. And when someone did die, did it have to look so B-movie-like. Nowhere when anyone was being stabbed or slashed did it look real. One guy walked at a snail’s pace and this one girl screamed and took one step to run and he was already on her, despite moving at a snail’s pace. Maybe this was a parody of some kind. Maybe it was supposed to be like a B-Movie, but I expect more from Urban Vision and AsiaVision.
Other things I didn’t like about the film - they killed the only two cool characters in the beginning of the film; the only characters really worth developing. The program director’s daughter was cool, but her two male co-stars were dull. The interactions between the three were horrible; I felt nothing from them. The girl was the only one I was rooting for and only because she was hot. The real hero of the movie - the one crazy killer had a Jason-like quality to him that I did like and they barely focused on him until the end. They should have scripted his murders better; made them more interesting and unique. That’s the big problem. The movie just didn’t have enough action or nail biting suspense. Even the death scenes weren’t exciting. And when they did show something cool; like this sword battle, it was too quick, gimmicked up through strange lighting that seemed to come out of nowhere a la Kill Bill and served absolutely no purpose then just to put two people in a sword fight and include it to make the trailer look cool.
“But at least your hair matches your blue jeans,” I tell my friend, trying to deflect the negative comments I just made. I did like the message the film had. Given the right circumstances, even the tamest of people can be made into killers. The ending was shocking in that regard, because it was the one thing I didn’t expect. And I even understood the alternate ending which involved a wacky dance number. The characters showed more life than ever in that scene and it sort of made me like the film a little, only because it made me forgive the dull acting throughout the story, as if it was done on purpose to show that these kids were just dead men walking only able to live again when they died. I really liked the dance number actually. It was fun. That’s what this movie needed; more fun.
I love Battle Royale: The Manga, but if you ever read my review of the film, you would know that I was thoroughly disappointed with it. However, Battle Royale: The Movie did not take itself too seriously and it made for some funny moments. This movie was unintentionally funny at times and lacked the charm a lot of characters in Battle Royale had. That being said, it goes to show you that even the greatest reviewers can be wrong at times. Battle Royale is a cult classic and if you liked that movie, you will probably find something to enjoy about Kill Devil. With that being the case, I am sure I will end up eating my words while I watch my friend with the new hairstyle I couldn’t stand get all the chicks.