Liverleaf – Japan, 2018

‘In a snow-covered village, my family was burnt to death’

Liverleaf – original title: Misumisô – is a 2018 Japanese horror feature film directed by Eisuke Naitô from a screenplay by Miako Tadano, based on a manga by Rensuke Oshikiri. The movie stars Anna Yamada, Hiroya Shimizu, Rinka Ôtani

Plot:

Haruka (Anna Yamada) transfers to a new rural school and is immediately bullied relentlessly. Unfortunately, a fire at her home kills Haruka’s parents and leaves her younger sister severely injured. She suffers an emotional breakdown and begins to take violent and bloody revenge on those responsible…

Reviews:

“One of the best features of this film are its snowy scenes and the way they are shot by cinematographer Hidetoshi Shinomiya. Nozaki’s red coat and white pants make her appear as a ghost floating through the blowing snow and Hidetoshi’s camera often lingers in place to let us watch this wraith move through the scene…” Matt Ward, Asian Movie Pulse

“Plot twists fall flat, but the themes are still retained by the end. It’s just a shame that it turns all its characters into caricatures instead of ones with a little motivation behind their actions beyond being seen by their peers. They die, and the movie moves on, because their deaths mean nothing.” Christopher Cross, Goomba Stomp

” …a shocking and important examination of a genuine problem in Japan and around the world, although one hopes this level of bloodletting is not a regular occurrence. It only really falls down structurally when it has escalated to a point where it has nowhere else to go but more of the same cycle of violence, becoming relentlessly cruel in its form and vision.” Richard Gray, The Reel Bits

“To call the film cartoonish and too hyper-stylized may be seen as a compliment by director Naito. But what I find as a wasted opportunity, though, is foregoing all character nuances (e.g. Rumi’s madness, bully ringleader Taeko’s [Ohtani Rinka] true sentiments about Nozaki) in favor of over-the-top action and revenge movie gore.” Tristan Zinampan, Screen Anarchy

“Unremittingly bleak, Liverleaf makes a bid for pathos in its closing coda as it takes us back to a case of ruined friendships and broken dreams but it can’t overcome the uneasy stylisation of all that’s gone before in swapping emptiness for wistful melancholy.” Hayley Scanlon, Windows on Worlds

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