Zombies are used as helpers around the homes. As long as they eat vegetables and fruit, not meat, they stay calm and helpful. A family in Japan receives their zombie servant, a young woman, and slowly but surely her relationship with the family is starting to change their lives.
SABU is a filmmaker you don't hear a lot about, but who has something of a cult following. With "Miss Zombie", he is threading into zombie territory, but not your usual horde-heavy splatterfest: like "Fido" before it (and probably a few others), this zombie movie focuses on a specific zombie who is "owned" as a servant/helper at home, much to the general populations disgust.
A young pregnant woman dies and is now getting a "job" as the zombie servant of a Japanese family. She's ordered to scrub their patio and do general basic work. The family is trying to adjust to having a braindead being in the midst, but everyone is responding differently to her. The mother tries to accept her as a regular person, always trying to make her feel welcome. Her young son is curious but cares the most about his camera. The father was the one who ordered her services and keeps to his own. Meanwhile, two human workers of the family can't keep their eyes off of the girl, thinking of all the things they can do to her without anyone knowing.
Things start taking a turn for everyone in the family after the arrival of the zombie girl. The mother sees how she appears to steal her family from her. The workers use her body for their perversions - and the father is soon to follow. The girl herself remains... undead and running on auto. Every night she walks home from the growingly dysfunctional family, always getting stabbed by different objects by a fascinated gang of punks, to live by herself in a minimal apartment.
"Miss Zombie" successfully makes us care about a zombie, something which I feel some movies have tried to achieve. The only movies that have seemed to be effective in that sense are the ones where a person is slowly decaying into a zombie through the movie. In "Miss Zombie", she's already a zombie. Her character does have a certain progress, something which Ayaka Komatsu perfectly depicts. Through the movie, the more weird and skewed the humans around her get, the more human she seems to become. She seems to remember and to be able to think about her actions. It's done in a very natural way, which helps sell her character as more than just a zombie.
The movie is done in black and white, which works well aesthetically, but it also seems to go hand-in-hand with the idea of a zombie turning more human (and humans more into zombies) in how it is used. SABU has brought out a great atmosphere, one that emphasizes the drama of the situation instead of turning it into a body horror flick. Even during the climax, you'd be struggling to call it a horror movie.
Gore and effects are present, but they're never more graphic than required. She has wounds on her face and body in the movie and they are quite well made. Nothing amazing, but at no point did they bother me. One weakness would be that the blood is too watery in certain scenes, but that would have annoyed me more if I was watching something that wasn't a zombie drama.
"Miss Zombie" displays moments of artsy Euro-drama, body horror and classic Japanese cinema (and at times a sense of pinku), without ever feeling like it's trying too hard. It flows pretty fluently between them to serve the plot. I don't think that the movie is flawless by any means, but I have a hard time finding anything to dislike about it. It's a well-crafted little overlooked zombie drama that offers a sympathetic story and great visuals. Very slow, but in just the right ways. Hopefully it will reach the right audience, as I suspect not all of SABU's fans will enjoy this one.