Movie Review: Stacy

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Director: Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Starring: Tomoka Hayashi, Natsuki Kato

Traditionally we haven’t seen a lot of zombie movies coming out of Japan. That’s changed a bit in recent years with movies like Junk and Stacy.

Stacy is the story of a plague that affects Japanese schoolgirls, first causing them to become morbidly, disturbingly happy and cheerful (the name the movie gives the effect is “near death happiness”) and then killing them, turning them into zombies, called “Stacies”. Kind of an interesting idea: after all, there’s an obvious sly and funny social commentary on gender roles and expectations bound up in the premise, as well as the potential for chilling visuals (a girl, so happy and carefree, just before her death, for instance. Great raw material).

Unfortunately, the film is undone by its slow pace, its weak story, and its shoddy image.

The plot is much as you’d expect: folks kill the zombies, zombies kill the folks, people struggle with their relationships, the government puts together paramilitary groups (the *wink-wink* Romero Repeat-Kill Taskforce) to kill zombies, mayhem ensues.

Unfortunately, the characters are not well-drawn and the plot gives us no reason to care about them. They’re just game markers being moved around a board, not real people inhabiting a real world.

The film is short – barely 80 minutes – but it feels longer than that, thanks to the meandering story and limp characters. In fact, I watched this movie twice last week, and fell asleep both times. That’s not a good sign for such a short film.

Lastly, the film seems to have been shot on video. Presumably this was to give it a more lurid, direct feel. Unfortunately, it has the opposite effect, taking scenes that ought to be disturbing and unsettling and rendering them impotent thanks to the harsh colors and quotidien feel the video gives them.

Stacy has some nice ideas in it – especially the jarring disonance between young girls knowing that they’ll soon die and acting as if they’ve never been happier – but ultimately it fails to hang together.

But Stacy at Amazon.

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