Black Rat (Japan 2010)

Rating: ***
Alternate Title: Kuronezumi (Japan title)
Review Date: 7/9/18
Director: Kenta Fukasaku
Cast: Misaki Yonemura, Rina Saito

A high school girl named Asuka (Rina Saito) commits suicide when her friends refuse to participate in her play that she's prepared for the school festival. Seven weeks later, her friends get a mysterious e-mail supposedly from Asuka, telling them to meet at their old classroom at midnight. When they arrive, a girl wearing a rat mask states that she's going to kill them all to avenge Asuka's death. Has Asuka really come back from the grave for revenge, or is someone else holding a grudge against the group? For the doomed students, it doesn't really matter.

It's a good looking and well-made low budget horror film, and director Kenta Fukasaku fills it with an unsettling sense of the bizarre. The story keeps you constantly guessing and off-balance as it doles out its various twists and revelations, and while the resolution is pretty straight forward, it leaves you with many questions to ponder. As is typical for any adolescent horror film, the girls look fantastic and all of the characters fall into the usual teenage sterotypes. The killer gives a cute and quirky performance that blatantly contradicts her deadly intentions, and she's fascinating to watch. The action scenes are surprisingly good for the genre, and there's a wonderful rooftop fight scene between Misato (Misaki Yonemura), Saki, and the rat that I found very captivating. Especially since Misato is such a timid, frail, and accomodating character. The film is barely over an hour long, which is just enough time to tell the story and get out without overstaying its welcome. It's not your typical J-Horror fare in either tone or execution, but it's a fun and spooky tale of shattered lives and bloody retribution.