Director: Yamada Masafumi
Starring: Ikoma Rina, Ikeoka Ryosuke, Maeda Nozomi, JUN, Naito Honoka
Based on a series of horror games, Corpse Party follows a group of students after a cultural festival stuck at school cleaning. With one of them transferring at the end of the day, they agree to do “Happy Sachiko,” a game that promises that the participants will stay friends together forever. Immediately after completing the ‘ritual’ the ground opens up and swallows the students and their teacher and they find themselves in an elementary school, a supposedly cursed one that was destroyed after the mysterious deaths of a school nurse and serial killings of 3 children. As the students panic and search for a way home, they must solve the mystery of curse and the secret of Sachiko Shinozaki, the namesake of the game “Happy Sachiko.”
An independent film, Corpse Party skews to the higher side of low budget horror. Utilizing mostly practical effects, the gore and scares are generally interesting visually if lacking in the actual delivering of scares. The few bits of visual effects are believable enough for a production of this budget, but can take the viewer out of it for how unnecessarily ineffective they end up being.
Ikoma Rina, of the Japanese idol group Nogizaka46 leads here as Naomi, a pretty lead who is attached to Ikeoka’s Mochida. While the feeling is mutual, the situation makes such things hard to express; especially when hidden feelings and motives between the group come to light. The cast is rounded out with Maeda playing an occult-obsessed student, JUN as a flashy male student Naito as the spirit of the young Sachiko. Other characters here have little to do but round out a fairly large cast that despite my feelings on the film as a whole deliver fair enough performances.
Where the film loses me is the at times darkly comedic use of gore and explosive violence that seems out of place considering the pretty interesting mythology and character relationships hinted at but never fully explored in the film’s 93 minute running time. There’s a good story there somewhere but perhaps it’ll require a play of the game or a viewing of the anime series for a clearer picture. Regardless, a film has to stand on its own merits and while it is a generally fun enough diversion, there probably isn’t enough to warrant a subsequent viewing.