I have a massive pile of J-drama that I need to get time to watch. At least as TV slows down over Christmas, I might be able to get through the stack and see and review a couple of series. But last night, having some time, I dug through the pile and came up with Corpse Party, a 2015 movie, directed by Masafumi Yamada and starring Ikoma Rina, Ikeoka Ryōsuke and Maeda Nozomi. It’s based on a series of horror video games in Japan and has also received the anime and live action TV treatment. So the format was right, but is the movie actually any good?As they prepare to leave high school, nine friends perform the “Sachiko Ever After” charm so they will always stay together, but the charm sucks them into an alternate universe where they are trapped in Tenjin Elementary School, site of some gruesome murders. There, they fight for their lives against the evil spirit of Sachiko, trying desperately to get back home.
If you notice one thing about Japanese horror, it’s that evil little supernatural girls murder everyone. To be honest, I’m done with that trope. It was fine in the first Ringu movie. I just find it boring now. I get that it’s a cultural thing, but come on, try some originality!
Of course, I’m reviewing this as an independent movie, I’ve seen a lot of people complain that this film adapts the video games and other media stories terribly, but I don’t care about that. I haven’t seen them, I haven’t played them, I really don’t care about them, I care how this movie stands on its own merits. And unfortunately, it doesn’t have a lot of merits.
The acting is wooden at best. They don’t give you any time to identify with the characters, such that when they start dying, you have no reason to care. And I guess where you can sort of identify with Sachiko’s plight at the end, it takes too long to get there and they just throw in the “little girl murdered” bit for flavor, it has nothing to do with the actual story at all.
And the whole plot really makes no sense. Why would anyone think this “Sachiko Ever After” charm is a good thing when everyone who does it gets sucked into hell and gets slaughtered? You’d think that might get around. Why would anyone use a charm dedicated to a murdered young girl? It makes no sense.
Remember how I said the acting was terrible? It really is, but I can probably chalk that up to the writing. All of the characters are two-dimensional, likely owing to their video game origins. They react stupidly, they run off and leave others alone, they whine and cry over idiotic things and in the end, the whole building falls down, a trope that I think we’re all completely sick of when the bad guy fails.
And they’re making a sequel.
I really can’t give this one a high rating. Maybe I’m missing something, not having watched and played the rest of the material in the canon, but as a standalone movie, this just trotted out the tropes, let them lie there for a minute, then moved on. Maybe I’m just sick of the tropes because they’re really not well done. Maybe I expect decent acting. I don’t know, but I know that I spent 93 minutes that I can’t get back.