Takashi Miike’s latest Japanese horror film mixes up a little of Saw, a pinch of The Hunger Games, a taste of Battle Royale, and a hell lot of insanity. While the set pieces are commendable, more could have been done to establish and make you care for the characters involved.
Based on a Japanese manga, As the Gods Will features the exploits of high school students who are trapped in, at first, their respective high schools, and then later, a cube suspended over the city. They must out-survive each other and some Japanese traditional toys that have come to life with the intent to do harm.
Sôta Fukushi plays Shun Takahata, your average Joe thrust in the middle of this madness. The film shines with regards to the gonzo showpieces where the students are pitted against a toy and have to achieve a certain kind of goal (i.e. push a button). Like a demented Japanese game show, you never know what’s next, and I will not ruin the surprises here.
This film brought back my experiences with the Danganronpa franchise, especially since the games also involve high school students trapped against their will. However, Danganronpa excels in characterization whereas characters are easily expendable here. I would have liked the deaths of the characters to have meant something, as opposed to being a showcase for fire hydrant gore.
The characters never question their circumstances which would have helped us expand upon the story and understand why these teenagers are involved in a fatal Olympics. That being said – this film is certainly a breath of fresh air with regards to the escapades and games the teenagers play. Hopefully there will be a sequel that will have us care more about the characters and explain what the #$%^ is going on.