Toronto After Dark 2016: As the Gods Will – Takashi Miike

Things got nigh on bizarre this evening at Toronto After Dark, as it continues to entertain at the Scotiabank Theatre here in Toronto. It was Japanese cinema night, and sadly, thanks to work constraints, I was only able to make one screening today, but what a screening!

If you aren’t familiar with Miike’s work, it’s hard to give you a point of reference. He’s always a little (a lot) odd, and good or bad, they are always a fun watch.

This one definitely entertained the crowd this evening, as there were moments of applause, when the heroes won, or a particularly odd kill graced the screen. And believe me, in this film, there are lots of odd moments.

At the film’s heart is Shun (Sota Fukushi) a young high school student who is bored with his day to day life, and wishes for something more. Unfortunately, he gets it. Through the course of the film, he’s thrown together with the young girl crushing on him, Ichika (Hirona Yamazaki), and the school psychotic, Amaya (Ryunosuke Kamiki).

The film never gets into the who, or the why, let alone the how, but high schools around the world find themselves locked, sealed to the outside world, overseen by giant cubes in the sky, while those young students inside fight for their lives in bloody games with sentient, and bizarre toys.

Outrageous in its audacity, and its ludicrousness, you can’t help but settle back, and ride the film, enjoying its sheer craziness, and laughing at the moments both intentionally funny, and those that are just comedic by getting lost in translation.

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The games the youngsters are forced to play are funny, riffs on games we all know, like red light, green light, and kick the can. Funny and deadly, the body count in the first few minutes of the film is incredibly high, and yet, you can’t help but laugh at the cinematic massacre taking place.

Filled with strange, and often picturesque images, things play out bloodily, for Shun and the others, as their numbers keep getting whittled down by the results of the game. Only the winners can advance, but there are betrayals, confusion, and oh so many lies.

If you aren’t ready for it, you may just sit there, and think, what the hell am I watching? But if you have a passing familiarity with Miike and know what he’s capable of, then you know it’s going to be an interesting ride. If you don’t, but think you’re ready, then buckle up.

I love the look of the film, there is a great use of colour and composition, there are some very silly encounters with those controlling each game, but I won’t spoil them.

I will say, it’s a very interesting ride. See it with an audience who’s ready for it, and just enjoy the wackiness.

I had a great time with it, and can’t wait to see if Miike follows up on it.

Toronto After Dark continues until Friday, check out the schedule and get your tickets here! And we’ll see you After Dark!

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