You think American horror movies steal from each other with shameless consistency? Well, true, but the Japanese gore-slingers have the cannibalization thing down to a science. Look no further than the confusingly endless series of Ringu movies to understand how quickly the horror stuff gets churned out in the East. Or just get a load of the plot synopsis on the back of the Kill Devil DVD case:
"In the year 2025, the government decides to send juveniles with the murder gene to an uninhabited island in the Pacific under a premise of rehabilitation. Conducting various studies to determine the ferocity of the hidden gene, they implement an experiment with the code name "Tag," causing deep-seated murder impulses to emerge by erasing their memories -- resulting in boys and girls who brutally kill each other."
Gee, that sounds a whole lot like a flick called Battle Royale, doesn't it? Stealing the plot, but not the fun, the smarts, or the intensity of Kinji Fukasaku's instant cult classic, director Yuichi Onuma (Suicide Manual 2) borrows quite liberally from other sources ... and does next to nothing with his ingredients.
Laden with unlikable characters, bizarre plot divergences, and a predilection for tiresome monologues, Kill Devil is as convoluted as its meaningless title. The flick focuses mainly on a trio of island-bound teens, each of whom must avoid the locale's numerous villains while fighting their own genetically enhanced urge to kill.
Whenever things get too boring, which is often, the evil grown-ups in charge will stop by to throw our "heroes" into a cell for no good reason, only to re-plant the subjects on the island the following morning. It all sounds pretty interesting, I know, but if you took all the exciting / violent / scary moments offered in Kill Devil and compressed them into a short film, the thing would run about seven full minutes.
Video: It's a pretty solid widescreen transfer from the folks at Urban Vision.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese with mandatory English subtitles.
A stunningly bizarre alternate ending, an image gallery, and a collection of trailers for Azumi, Kill Devil, and Kokkuri.
Stick with the original Battle Royale, renting Kill Devil only if you need to see what a really dreary version would look like.