“An enjoyable narrative [that] frames (…) gore in such an enjoyable and satisfying way [but will eventually leave] (…) spectators (…) wanting for more.”
While Hiroki Yamaguchi impressed international audiences with his sci-fi horror Hellevator (2004), a surprise hit on that years Fantasia Film Festival, he has remained largely unnoticed with the rest of his oeuvre. Despite the lack of a true international breakthrough, Yamaguchi has nevertheless kept making movies, expanding his oeuvre of mostly low-budget movies.
This time around, Hiroki Yamaguchi presents Bloody Chainsaw Girl, a narrative based on the manga series Chimamire Sukeban Chainsaw written and illustrated by Rei Mikamoto. Can this narrative be another surprise hit for Yamaguchi or is it doomed just to be another movie that enlarges his oeuvre?
[The Blu-ray/DVD can be bough on the website of Midori Impuls [German subtitled]
One day, Giko Nokomura (Rio Uchida), a delinquent schoolgirl, comes to school to make her mock-up exam. On her way she is ambushed and ends up fighting some mutant cyborg classmates, beating them all skillfully with her chainsaw. These classmates were turned into mutant cyborgs by Nero Aoi (Mari Yamachi), a fellow classmate and crazy scientist. As the homeroom teacher barricades himself against Nero and classmates are out to defeat Giko, a confrontation between Giko and Nero, who wants to turn Giko as well, is bound to happen.
While Bloody Chainsaw Girl starts rather idyllic, it doesn’t take long for the narrative – as the title implies – to glide into its absurdity of gore and juvenile eroticism: blood splatters freely, limbs and entrails fly around, while pantyshots provide a mandatory voyeuristic break from the crazy but very enjoyable gore. But while there is gore present – enough to satisfy some, the narrative could’ve used even more – leaving others wanting more. Instead – and this might be surprising – we are offered various flashbacks and some extensive conversations, both helping to uncover the ‘why’ of the narrative as it unfolds in the present day. By sketching the reasons why Nero Aoi became a crazy scientist, the history between Nero and Giko, and the background of some students, the theme of bullying is brought to the fore in a rather strange but ultimately sincere way.
As is evident from the very first minutes of the narrative, Yamaguchi’s cinematography favours movement and fluidity. Cinematographical movement is provided by the various shots sweeping over the beautiful landscape, the many tracking shots following or not following a character, and the shaky moving shots employed to frame the bloody action (Cine-note 1). The ridiculous and brutal action is framed excitingly enough, enabling the spectator to enjoy the excessive gore that is put on display. This enjoyment is supported by the ridiculous over-the-top nature of the violence as well as by the rather absurd narrative, which gives ‘meaning’ to the violence in the first place.
While most effects are good – given the budget, good enough to underline the excessive and ridiculous nature of the violence, the explosions could have been better. This is nevertheless only a minor setback, but still a setback that hurts the believability of the absurdity. The same can be said about the acting performances. Whereas most of the performances suit the ridiculousness of the narrative perfectly, some moments of bad acting undermine the consistency of the craziness narrative.
Bloody Chainsaw Girl is an enjoyable narrative that isn’t able to capitalize on the strengths it puts on the table. While all the elements to make this narrative great are present, the balance between these elements is off. The cinematography frames the manga-splatter in such an enjoyable and satisfying way – and this is truly the narrative’s strength, that spectators will be left wanting for more. While the provided narrative depth has to be applauded, gore-enthusiasts need more blood gushing and more limbs and entrails flying around. Less speech, more gore, that is all Hiroki Yamaguchi had to provide to (maybe) have another surprise-hit in his hands.
Cine-note 1: Nevertheless, when the movement of the characters is rather minimal – often while having conversations, some fixed shots are present in the narrative.