I hate Texas. I’ve lived here almost my entire life and am pretty ready to leave at this point in my life. The only upside to living here is I am about a half hour drive from the annual SXSW festival that goes on in Austin. This year at the festival I caught a Japanese vampire film called Higanjima. Based on the manga of the same name, it tells the story of the main characters’ older brother Atsushi who went away for a romantic weekend away with his fiance and simply never returned. Meanwhile his young brother Akira, having been originally told his brother was dead, receives word of Atsushi’s plight, gathers a group of his friends and sets sail to rescue him. The effects work is quite good through the entire film, however I wish I could say the same about the script.
When you should be focusing on death, blood and killing, we instead get a lot of gossip talk among the teenagers. So the pacing is all off and the characters are way too skimpy to warrant so much cartoon-style character development. There were a good 30 minutes that could have been easily cut from the film and it would not have missed a beat. But, there is blood and guts and when it begins, thats when you can let your worries drift away.
The very idea of an island full of vampires, as well as the use of samurai swords to dispatch them equals lots of awesomeness. Much gore, vampire-fueled explosions, and death scenes without bullets ensue. It opens strong with a vampire attack on a man in a barn, he is somewhere on the island of Higanjima. He is saved by some sort of vampire hunter who dispatches the evil beings in many bloody ways. However, things take a downhill turn when he uses a portable battering ram type device to crush a skull. Towards the end of the film our young heroes find themselves embroiled in a climatic battle that involves a good deal of CG. It comes off cheesy but it’s not all bad.
The whole thing is overly long, not that much fun and just silly. If you are a horror fan though you will find a lot to enjoy here. For others, if in the future you come across it on DVD or Netflix, give it a shot, it’s got some cool stuff going for it, but in its current state it’s not worth actively hunting down. Since only total cranial destruction assuredly kills these vampires, I’d probably leave the kids in their rooms.