Nou Shou Sakuretsu Girl (Japan 2015)

Rating: **
Alternate Title: Brain Fluid Explosion Girl
Review Date: 8/15/16

A live action adaptation of the manga of the same name, which literally translates to "brain fluid explosion girl." With a title like that, how could I possibly pass it up? Unfortunately, it's overly talky and the lack of subtitles makes it completely incomprehensible. I'll try my best to summarize what I saw, but there are definitely spoilers ahead!

A group of high school girls are kidnapped by some creepy guys wearing steampunk gear, and are forced to play a deadly cell phone quiz game. If you answer a question wrong or don't answer in time, you get shot in the head and a jelly-like substance explodes from your skull. Not pretty. The main character is Hana (?), who appears to be an awkward transfer student with no friends. However, the prettiest girl in her class (Inazawa?) takes a liking to Hana, and together they share some macarons and try to survive the horrors that are thrown at them. At some point, one of the other girls finally decides to fight back and steals the enemy's guns. But then she goes completely crazy and starts murdering her classmates for no apparent reason. We eventually learn that the students who were shot with these special guns aren't actually dead, but they've been turned into mindless zombies who must obey their master's orders. Um, okay... And that's when things really start getting weird. Inazawa, who has effectively been the hero the entire time, turns out to be a villain and her brother is the one who's in charge of running the game! The final challenge results in Hana and Inazawa staring down each others' guns, with Hana pleading Inazawa to come to her senses. In the end, Inazawa gets shot by someone else, leaving Hana to wallow in sorrow and contemplate taking her own life. But instead, she dons some steampunk garb of her own and reanimates Inazawa as her zombie servant, and together they go after the masterminds who are in charge of the whole operation.

It's definitely a low budget affair, and the natural light scenes are overexposed to make the girls look as pale as possible. This is a fairly common practice in Japanese direct-to-video productions, which just comes across as looking cheap and unprofessional. Apart from a handful of really nice looking impact shots (thanks to Alpha Stunts), the visual effects are weak and uninteresting. Thankfully, the girls are all adorable, and the actress who plays Inazawa is extremely captivating. The acting is decent, but the characters never stray from the classic schoolgirl stereotypes. The theme song is super annoying, while the rest of the score fails to make an impression. It's by no means a terrible film, but the sparse action and lack of subtitles make it difficult to enjoy.