The young Rome film festival brings out the Asian madness for its 7th edition. Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike was over there for the international premiere of the high-school gore-fest Lesson of the Evil.
A short round-up of the international reviews;
THE FACE OF THE KILLER
The film is about a popular english teacher, who turns out to be a killer… The character is played by actor Hideaki Ito, whose performance is said to be “not entirely convincing” according to the Screen Daily, but “it will be sure to generate a certain media buzz.”
An opinion shared by The Playlist Society, the journalist writes Ito is “displaying minimal acting capabilities and an oddly scrubbed-looking face.”
On the other hand, The Hollywood Reporter notes that he’s been “maliciously cast against type,” and proves to be “very much up for the schizophrenic role and its turn-arounds.” Variety thinks the same, saying that “Ito is undeniably charismatic and enjoys the role to the hilt.”
A BLOODBATH, SO WHAT?
As for the character itself, he appears to be the main attraction of the film, but most reviews agree on the point that’s once his true face has been revealed, the story falls into monotony.
The Playlist Society explains, “sacrificing narrative coherence for gore and spectacle is a forgivable crime, but not when you allow that goriness to become humdrum and uninspired in execution,” because at some point it’s not enough to watch “identical kids die identically,” as “we need to kind of know who they are, in order for their deaths to have any shock value.”
In the same vein, Screen Daily mentions that “character development goes out of the window,” as soon as the teacher’s nature is revealed, he’s “unable to feel remorse, empathy, or much else, he becomes a calculating killing machine and the only questions are who, when, where and how.”
”AN ADRENALINE-PUMPING PLEASURE RIDE,” REALLY?
What about the gore-fest? The Hollywood Reporter points out that in the second hour, “the director unleashes non-stop mayhem that should hook young fans thirsty for bloodshed in the classroom,” where “each murder is imaginatively kinky, and happily takes place off-screen.”
After having mentioned the narrative issues, The Playlist Society uses the word “gratuitous” to describe the violence.
And surprisingly, Variety plays the moral card, “there’s something particularly troubling about a gleeful gorefest that climaxes with high-school students being mowed down by a psychopath,” saying that element is precisely “objectionable.” The writer briefly mentions the Breivik massacre to make his point.
BECAUSE TAKASHI MIIKE
“Miike knows how to put together a good-looking, well-made package, and there’s nothing to fault him with technically, except for the aforementioned overuse of ‘Mack the Knife’,” says Variety.
And <The Hollywood Reporter thinks that “all the tech work is first rate, even though one wishes a good part of the last hour could have stayed on the cutting room floor.” Adding some insightful details, “using muted, subdued colors and surprisingly classical filmmaking, Miike lulls viewers into a false sense of security.” Good to know!
In the end, it’s “a horror film undone by a fatal lack of suspense and the sheer haste with which script and package were clearly assembled” according to Screen Daily.
Lesson of the Evil is “nothing more than a slick slasher pic of debatable merit” concludes Variety, and the headline of The Playlist Society’s review speaks of an “overlong & incoherent” film that “is sadly more bore than gore.”
(it would appear Lesson of the Evil is the international title, it sounds weird though)
AKA 悪の教典, Aku no Kyoten (2012)