Having watched and reviewed the latest releases from Midori Implus (“MAI CHAN’s Daily life“, “Schoolgirl Apocalypse“), and considering this is a zombie-themed film, I expected a genuine splatter, where blood would fill the screen from the first to the last frame. However, and although gore is not missing, “Undertaker” is a whole other kind of film.
Unsurprisingly, a deadly various has infected Japan, transforming people to bloodthirsty zombies, with the government trying to secure those who have not been infected yet, and particularly the children. Ryouichi is one of these kids, who is transferred away from his home and his infected mother, along with Megumi, a neighbor girl he seems to like. However, during their transport, the girl is proven to be infected, and eventually attacks the driver, in a series of events that end up with the car crashed and Megumi attacking Ryouichi. The boy escapes by accident, and, after some time, ends up as assistant to an undertaker, an individual who is paid to kill the zombified relatives of those who want them buried. Years pass, and the few survivors have relocated from the infected area. However, Ryouichi still lives there, “working” as an undertaker. However, the thoughts of the girl and her ending still torment him.
Naoyoshi Kawamatsu directs a film that uses splatter and zombies as a setting, to focus on the psychology of his protagonist, in a more “humane” approach to the genre. In that fashion, the film moves in a slow pace, and Hajime Kanda’s camera focuses, apart from the zombies, to some very impressive dystopian images. Furthermore, Yoshito Kobashigawa does a great job of portraying the tormented Ryouichi (for the genre, that is).
Do not misunderstand me, though. This is not a psychological thriller, but a toned down splatter film. Therefore, after the half-hour break, the action ensues and never actually stops. Ryouchi, armed with a customized shovel and a bag to put the part of the zombie in, to prove to his customers that he actually did the job, roams emptied underground parking lots, killing zombies that come across his way, as he tries to find the proper one. The action scenes that ensue are quite good, exemplifying both the makeup department (Misako Maeda, Akiteru Nakada) and the special effects team (Akiteru Nakada, You Toyoshima).
I have to admit, I would prefer a little more action in the 64 minutes of the film, but “Undetaker” definitely pulls its weight, and is quite easy to watch (Again, for the genre), in very entertaining fashion.
Midori Implus offers “Undertaker” on a gorgeous, limited edition mediabook that includes (for the first 500 copies) a card handsigned from director Naoyoshi Kawamatsu, and (for all the copies) and a 36-page booklet in German, with the manga “Undertaker” and interview from the director.
The disc is a DVD-9, RegionFree, in PAL, and the picture 1,78:1 (anamorph / 16:9). The Japanese sound is Dolby Digital 2.0. The edition includes both English and German subtitles.
The extras include the making of, deleted scenes, audio commentary, behind the scenes, storyboards, and trailers.
Overall, the whole package is a true work of art.