If this film was an ad in the personals, it would read something like this:
LESBIAN SCHOOLGIRLS SEEKING SATAN needs recruits: intending applicants must bring their own sharp implements.
Of course, the whole film’s not like that. Not quite. For starters, there’s only one lesbian schoolgirl. But someone is seeking Satan, and there are plenty of sharp implements used to great effect on the students. In fact, the whole thing feels comfortingly like one of those 90s films of the subgenre “we’re locked up and being brutally murdered one by one”. All the genre conventions are satisfied, all the standards are adhered to. Not completely surprising, since the film was made in 1995.
If you have a yen to see some schoolchildren slaughtered, then you’ll be delighted with this film. For me, this film demonstrated how far horror has come since those days, or at least how different good horror is from pedestrian slaughter-by-numbers horror. I sat on my couch like a turnip, barely blinking at each murder: indeed, even chuckling at the occasional one, satisfied that the conventions were being adhered to and all was as I expected.
Mind you, there are some surprises. The biggest and best, for me, was the presence of a very young Miho Kanno. If you’ve not seen Kanno before, you’ve missed one of Japan’s finest, and even in this, extremely young and inexperienced as she is, she stands out.
Sadly, she doesn’t stand out enough to make up for the film’s other flaws. I can forgive the chaotic mix of high church latin and the jumbling of demonic names (this from someone who once owned The Dictionary of Devils and Demons, and who knows the odd thing about ’em). I can forgive the incongruity of Japanese schoolkids getting obsessed about magic and Satan. I can even forgive the murder-by-numbers banality of the horror.
What I can’t forgive is the ending. Cheating is cheating, Satan or no. Let’s hope the writers never stray into my magic circle.