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Sponsored by: Ztélé

Canadian Premiere

  • Japan / South Korea2009
  • 122 min
  • 35mm
  • Japanese with English subtitles
Official Selection, Pusan International Film Festival 2009
Official Selection, Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2010


HorrorAction / Adventure

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Director: Kim Tae-gyun
Screenplay: Tetsuya Oishi, from Koji Matsumoto
Cast: Hideo Ishiguro, Dai Watanabe, Asami Mizukawa, Koji Yamamoto, Miori Takimoto
Producers: Toru Miyake, Juno Lee
Print Source: Showbox/Mediaplex



Two years ago was the last time Akira, or anyone else in their community, saw his brother Atsushi. Akira’s nonetheless a cheerful teenager, despite his constant need to nimbly dodge the kicks and punches of his high school’s tough guys. In other words, he’s everyone’s friend but nobody’s idea of a hero. When out of curiosity he and his pals tail a mysterious man and woman to an abandoned warehouse, they make a shocking discovery—the man is drinking the blood of a terrified female captive! The kids scatter and flee, but the bloodsucker pursues them, and is on the verge of killing Akira when the woman reappears and destroys the evildoer. She explains that she hails from a small, overlooked Japanese island that has become the domain of an ancient, megalomaniac vampire and his newly created army of undead servants. She has been allowed to live in exchange for luring fresh victims to the island. She also claims that Atsushi is on the island, and has not yet been claimed by the vampire tyrant. Akira and his friends bravely accept to venture there, but they’ll quickly find out that there’s a lot more to the island Higanjima than this enigmatic ambassador has told them.

Following a text-based adventure for Playstation in 2005 comes the full-blown, big-screen, live-action adaptation of Koji Matsumoto’s eerie manga tale “Higanjima,” originally serialized in Young Magazine. It’s a Japanese-Korean co-production, and a lively collaboration between screenwriter Tetsuya Oishi—no stranger to smart, teen-oriented horror, having scripted other manga adaptations like DEATH NOTE and M.W.—and director Kim Tae-gyun, whose rip-roaring 2001 Korean film VOLCANO HIGH ably demonstrated his knack for mixing violent action-fantasy with adolescent angst and antics. HIGANJIMA, though, has a much darker, doom-laden tone, never to mention copious quantities of blood, blood and more blood. After all, it’s a vampire movie—correction: an army-of-vampires movie!—and don’t go thinking a wimpy little wooden stake or silver bullet will get the job done on Higanjima. Nope, you’ll get more mileage out of a sledgehammer and samurai sword, for starters, in this sanguineous battle royale!

—Rupert Bottenberg

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