LIVERLEAF (2018) Reviews and overview

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‘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…” Asian Movie Pulse

“Yomada is excellent as the timid, cringing wallflower turned psycho killer. Her change from one extreme to the other is totally believable and while the gore and mayhem may be somewhat over-the-top, it is a comic book adaptation folks and one would expect an exaggerated amount of violence and bloodshed in that situation.” Cinema 365

“Even though Liverleaf presents an over-the-top and unrealistic narrative, it successfully evades turning into something ridiculous. This is entirely due to Eisuke Naito’s directing and guidance of the young cast, by which he makes sure that the actors/actresses turn their characters into more than just caricatures.” Eastern Kicks

“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.” Goomba Stomp

” …it’s a horror film that perfectly achieves what the director was set out to do, while adding elements of touching and heart-breaking drama that fit the story in the best way possible. This film is violent, bloody, depressing, infuriating and powerful, which is why I would strongly recommend it, despite its melodramatic or cheesy elements.” Horror World & News

” …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.” 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.” Screen Anarchy

“As much as Liverleaf is a visual treat, it also suffers from the same neglect of irony, humor, or narrative sense that marred Naito’s other works. We have here a highly skilled filmmaker when it comes to techniques, but he is nonetheless somewhat detached from the subjects of his works.” VCinema

“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.” Windows on Worlds

Cast and characters:

Anna Yamada … Haruka Nozaki
Hiroya Shimizu … Mitsuru Aiba
Rinka Ôtani … Taeko Oguro
Rena Ôtsuka … Rumi Sayama
Kenshin Endô … Hidetoshi Kuga
Masato Endô … Tsutomu Ikegawa
Reiko Kataoka … Risakou Kato
Ayaka Konno
Aki Morita … Kyoko Minami
Seina Nakata … Yoshie Tachibana
Arisa Sakura … Yuri-Chan
Minori Terada … Michio Nozaki
Masahiro Toda
Kazuki Ôtomo … Hiroaki Mamiya

Technical details:

114 minutes

Original title:

Misumisô

Watch the trailer on YouTube

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