‘Karaoke Terror’: Unexpected Song

The Morning After

I've never been one for sport. But after last night's viewing of Karaoke Terror, I think I now understand a thing or two about the feeling of seeing a promising play end in defeat.

I should hasten to add that this is not a bad film, just a vastly different one than the trailer would lead you to believe. It is NOT another Suicide Club or Battle Royale, and I suppose it's a bit unreasonable to expect anything to fill those big shoes. The tragedy here is that it very easily could've gone toe-to-toe with those modern classics if only it had adhered less to the source novel by Audition scribe Ryu Murakami and more to the quirky traditions of modern Japanese cinema itself.

The plot: A group of young men who band together to stage impromptu karaoke sessions by the sea are pulled into a war of attrition with the Midoris, a group of middle-aged women who themselves spend a fair amount of time in karaoke bars, after the women seek revenge for the killing of one of their own by one of the boys. (Best to plot this one out on the back of a soggy karaoke bar cocktail napkin.)

The somewhat gory revenge attacks between the two groups escalate as each side claims a new victim. As the death toll mounts, the survivors rediscover the joys of life itself, for however long they have left to indulge in them.

Karaoke Terror is a farce somewhat in the vein of Battle Royale's early "education" scene, with an ending bound to rattle the cages of today's hypersensitive alarmists. There are quite a few laughs and several Japanese Golden Oldies sung by the cast as they go about their grim missions.

Is it an enjoyable film? Certainly. However, its lack of the underlying darkness that marked films like Suicide Club, and even All About Lily Chou-Chou -- both of which covered a similar alienation of young people -- makes it difficult to classify this oddity as a horror film.

Parting gift: The clip above is the first song in the Karaoke Terror trailer and the first in the film -- this from the original 60s-era artists: Pinkie and the Killers.

(And darn it, though The Blue Hearts song "Linda Linda" -- popularized in the recent flick Linda Linda Linda -- appears in the trailer, I'm pretty sure it wasn't anywhere to be found in the film itself. Playing some dirty pool there, film marketers.)

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