The first screening for this film sold out and considering the director behind this work, it’s no surprise. It’s also a return to extreme, exploitive violence that Miike has been known for in some of his previous work. I am not necessarily a fan of extreme violence or serial killer movies. If violence is to be shown, I prefer it to be bloody and messy and with a purpose. Miike tends to portray violence as such although he also does it in an over the top manner which can elicit laughs. It’s no different in this film.
Seiji Hasumi is a well-liked English teacher who works at a high school. Students at the school have been cheating with cellphones and the teachers discuss how to deal with this. He offers some good suggestions and seems like a good guy at first. He helps out students and appears to be liked by them but his nature is quickly revealed to the viewer and as expected it leads to a bloody, horrible school shootout. This is not a film whose only offering is a killing spree of students and nothing else although it is expertly shot and staged in a sickeningly, gleeful way.
Hideaki Ito plays the psychopath teacher and is absolutely convincing as the sly, manipulative and cold-blooded killer. We get glimpses of his past through flashbacks which are sometimes a bit surreal and did more to confuse me than anything else. We see how he tries to initially set up his kills as believable suicides and his interactions with the other teachers and students, some of whom are beginning to suspect his dark nature. I didn’t necessarily understand his character but he’s compelling to watch nonetheless. The ending of the film was good with some clever developments. The violence is extreme although it’s not as bad as I thought it would be, mostly a lot of gun shots, you’re not going to see anything too gruesome but there is lots of blood, of course and body flying around from gun shot impacts. Fans of the genre will be pleased with Miike’s latest work. Dare I say, it may be good enough to attract open-minded filmgoers who aren’t necessarily the target audience but willing to try something out of their comfort zone.
The second screening is on Sunday, July 21, 11:30pm at Imperial theatre.