asian horror

Lesson of the Evil (2012)

01

A bit of an odd installment in the legacy of Takashi Miike, Lesson of the Evil is a good flick, not a great one.  With Miike, it’s hard to know what you’re getting into.  This seems to be one of his attempts towards the mainstream, but it’s still a decent slasher flick at its core.  There’s nothing particularly shocking or disturbing in there, though it’s obvious that a good portion of this film was inspired by real life events here in the states and Norway (i.e., school massacres).  My advice: give this one a watch, but only after you’ve exhausted Miike’s catalogue for some of his juicier stuff.

 

Sweaty’s Stats

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Nudity

Some, all male.  Plenty of nice pec and ass shots though.  The killer (Hideaki Ito) is one fine looking gentleman.

Gore

Not a ton in the first half, but there are literally buckets full later on.

Scare Factor

None.  Creepy in parts, but not scary.  This one’s a thriller/splatter/psycho killer flick.

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Summary

Our story begins ominously, with a naked, knife-wielding young man stalking what appears to be his crying, remorseful parents.  With that nugget planted, we shift drastically to – yet another – plot set in a Japanese high school setting.  At first, things seem fairly typical.  Students come and go to class, chat about classmates… masturbate with a defibrillator in front of the entire student body.  Y’know, high school.

02

“Health class.”

Enter a young, suave teacher named Hasumi.  Beloved by his students, Hasumi is a man respected for his integrity and dedication to his job, even if he does seem to have an odd attraction to tussling his student’s hair.

03

“Too bad.”

Eventually all this hair petting leads to one of the students, Miya, getting hot for teacher and seducing him on the school’s rooftop.  Meanwhile, another teacher at the school, one seen arguing with Hasumi earlier in the film, has turned up dead under mysterious circumstances.  As the police investigate, another school official meets them in the parking lot and insinuates that there might be more to Hasumi than people think.

04

“You’ve got red on you.”

After blackmailing another teacher for boning a different student (seriously, what is going on in this school) Hasumi lures Miya to a “smart gay’s” fab pad for some sweet, sweet statutory rape.  Back at school, some of the students mention that Hasumi’s previous teaching gig was at a school famous for a rash of suicides, because as I’ve stated before, by law a movie set in a Japanese high school must mention suicide somewhere.  Things move pretty quickly after that and Hasumi’s true colors begin to shine in all their red, chunky, splattered glory.  Also, calling back to the opening scene, we learn that he enjoys killing in the nude.

05

That’s one killer ass, amiright

The rest of the movie is a splatterfest from here on out.  Pretty much anyone who crosses Hasumi’s path, including the annoying birds outside his window, get the knife.  Or gun, or electrocution… you get the picture.  And so the fun begins.  Where this movie started out in the first half as fairly vanilla, the second half more than makes up for it.  We get a little backstory on Hasumi’s bloody past, learning that he once had an American, English-speaking partner, a deliciously creepy guy with certain tastes.

06

Specifically, it was their taste in pupils that brought them together.

Hasumi starts to lose control of the situation, killing one after another to keep his secrets, until finally he just says fuck it and decides to murder every single other person in the film.  While this sounds awesome (and it mostly is), he chooses a shotgun for the final stage and I’ll be honest, I got a little bored watching him just shoot people.  One thing we as horror fans tend to appreciate is creative death sequences.  Unfortunately, this one kind of missed the boat in that respect.

07

All aboard!

 

Final Thoughts

I will say that I found the character of Hasumi, the killer, well portrayed.  In a slasher flick, your killer is everything, and actor Hideaki Ito (who some Miike fans might recognize as the gunman from Sukiyaki Western Django) carried it well.  Another actor of note, though his screen time was brief, was the weird, cannibalistic partner.  His disturbing, quirky demeanor was a breath of fresh air in this movie, and I found myself wanting more of him in the film.

A perfect blend of traditional and computer effects makes for some convincing gore, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before.  Again, there’s nothing particularly creative about the death scenes.  On a more positive note, the soundtrack really makes this film, especially in the climax.  The German, circus-like version of Mack the Knife playing throughout definitely adds a creepy atmosphere to certain parts of the movie.  Bobby Darin crooning it later on as school kids are mowed down one after another had me grinning from ear to ear (and humming the tune for the rest of the day).

Overall, an enjoyable film.  Not one of his best, but Miike is the Stephen King of Japanese cinema.  Not every attempt of his is gold, but the guy has made over a hundred movies; he keeps tossing pebbles and some make bigger splashes than others.  This one’s not his most shocking, or his most weird, but it has its moments.  Unfortunately the movie suffers from a long running time, a little over two hours, one hour of which I think could have been cut.  However the ending sets us up for a sequel, and I’ll admit I am interested to see what comes next.

08

One thing I did learn from this movie: Japanese fire drills are fucking scary.

 

Score: 7/10, skip it in favor of better Miike films

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IMDB for this one

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