Title: Schoolgirl Apocalypse

Also known as:
Sêrâ-fuku mokushiroku (Original title)
Sailor Suit Apocalypse (Alternative title)

Year: 2011

Genre: Horror / Drama / Zombie

Language: Japanese

Runtime: 86 min

Director: John Cairns

Writer: John Cairns

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2360114/

An infection is spreading across Japan turning all the males into zombies. After Sakura's mother is attacked and killed, Sakura takes to the streets in hopes for surviving the inevitable apocalypse. She meets a few people, good and bad, but one guy seems to be of more importance than everyone else...

Our thoughts:
It's only fair that I break any ideas you might have so far: even though the movie is Japanese and is called "Schoolgirl Apocalypse", this is NOT one of those over-the-top splatter movies that are really popular (though it seems like they are on the decline, finally!). This is a very serious zombie movie that doesn't mind going to some unique places by mixing drama and at times even animation.

What makes this movie so entertaining isn't really the story, as that one doesn't have too many tricks up its sleeves: it's about males turning into zombies. As the title suggests, the movie is about a schoolgirl, Sakura, who is trying to survive this zombie apocalypse. Her mother was attacked and killed, and now she's roaming the streets. She gets in contact with a few people, and one girl who is making things harder for Sakura instead of helping. A rotten egg, so to speak. Sakura is starting to have weird visions (or are they dreams?) about a boy who wants to reach the ocean. These sequences are shown as very crudely drawn animations, which definitely stands out to an otherwise upright zombie drama/horror.

The survival/zombie aspect of "Schoolgirl Apocalypse" is just excellent - one of the most entertaining in Japanese zombie movies and fits nicely with some fun favorites like "Junk" and "Bio-Zombie" (I guess "Versus" and "Wild Zero" are on a level of their own). Sakura is a great character - strong but still with the always important emotional touch. The zombie action is quite true to classics, though they might be a bit more hyper, like the modern ones. In every way, the zombie part of the movie is spot-on, even with the effects. There are some things I could nitpick, but overall I am very surprised that it managed to bring on the drama, action and the zombie horror so well.

But then we have the other part.. the animations. They are very hard to swallow, really. They stand out so much from the rest of the movie, and I can't help but think that maybe there could have been a better way of doing this. But these scenes aren't bad scenes per se, just catches us by surprise and come off as very trippy. They do help in seperating the boy character from the rest of the movie, so that when she meets him for real we always know that he is important to the story. The use of animation is not something that leaves much of a negative effect, but it made it a bit harder to get into.

The only thing I can really say that was specifically "bad" was the finale. Let's just say that it gets to the roots of the zombie infection, and while the idea could've been decent, it just doesn't pull off the effects to make it work. To keep it short, they use CGI for a pretty wild finale. CGI is fine up to a certain point: if you can enhance scenes with it, go ahead. But I don't enjoy seeing something built up entirely with CGI. "Schoolgirl Apocalypse" went from feeling like a really entertaining and interesting zombie movie, to something you'd see on SyFy (okay, that's harsh - it was better than SyFy).

Overall I am very pleased with "Schoolgirl Apocalypse". It's interesting that it's a Japanese movie made by an American (I think) director, yet he captures a lot of the style of the countries other titles, and often perfects it. It does so many things right that I'm willing to accept the surprisingly odd animation/cartoon scenes and the lacking finale. The movie wins me over completely by being a great zombie movie outside of those things. It has great characters, fun effects and some really creative ideas that often work in favor of the visuals. If you enjoy zombie movies but feel there have been so many bad ones recently, then you should at least check this one out. You might have a hard time accepting some things, but I think you'll at least find a neat little "zombie apocalypse meets coming of age" movie.

Positive things:
- The zombie/apocalypse aspect is excellent.
- The zombies were a nice mix of old and new.
- Great characters, especially Sakura.
- Often creative.
- It's not an over-the-top splatter movie from Japan. PHEW!

Negative things:
- The animation sequences were a REALLY bold move. I might need to rewatch the movie to truly know what I think of them.
- The CGI finale.

Gore: 2.5/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 3/5
Effects: 3/5
Comedy: 1/5

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