Please note: This review comes from an avid horror fan; this film is my first interaction with the School Lives! franchise and my opinion is based off seeing this as it's packaged - a zombie survival action-horror and without any prior knowledge.
I knew upon starting this zombie survival horror that it was going to be a little worse for wear around the edges. The cast are a Japanese idol girl group - already I know that this is going to be cliched and a little cringe-worthy. That's nothing on the girls - it's just how they always end up type-cast a majority of the time. Something to take into consideration whenever you watch idol rookie-actor lead films.
I honestly thought this was a horror-comedy, maybe something satirical that was taking the mick of a lot of tropes within horror movies. The surprise when I checked the page to find that this was being pushed forward as a fully serious film was painful.
Every time a zombie shows up, the girls fluster, fall over, freak out, etc and don't seem to have any ability to defend themselves. They way they've survived as long as they have is an utter mystery to me. Not surprising, again, with cute and innocent Japanese idol leads, but disappointing none the less - they could have still done this with grace and professionalism that showed the actresses as cute and sweet, but with some semblance of realism. Some of the girls deal with mental issues that would be common in an apocalypse - PTSD, being unable to accept reality etc, and this is a really interesting part of the film. Of course, this part of the film they barely developed and had pop up a few times and that was it.
With another cliched goodbye scene nearer the end, this film gets a tick for every possible trope they could have used, and ruined themselves with. Cliches are relatively normal in Japanese horror, don't get me wrong - but this is just taking the mick.
I feel like this is meant to be a feel good horror movie, one that blurs the line between realism and imagination within its parameters. However, even coming to this conclusion mid way through the film, I still feel like it missed the mark on that.
Maybe I would have enjoyed this more if I was a fan of the franchise, if I even knew what the story was about before going into it, or even if I knew how trope ridden it was going to be. Maybe it's meant to be like this in tone, similar to the anime and manga - not something I would know. I've seen a lot of people say this is very true to the source content. As a horror fan? Someone who was browsing the horror tag and wanted something full of horror to watch? Definitely one I wish I had skipped and not come across. I swear I've only seen 4 good animemanga adaptations and there'll all by the same director... It's a massive shock and shame that the director of this was the person who directed The Chasing World.
With a cliche hallway scene, everything suddenly going wrong and another emergency to contend to, this film is honestly the most cliched and trope ridden horror I've seen released this year, worldwide. A film that has left me underwhelmed, bored and knowing I should have sprung for a Korean 2019 horror instead.
Also: one small pet peeve is how do these girls have an unlimited supply of bright white unstained uniforms in their exact sizes every day. It's the middle of the zombie apocalypse. How and where are you washing your clothes? When every other personzombie in this film has disgustingly grey, ripped, and ruined shirts and pants? (Yes, this is how bored I was...
Review by SyoKennex from the Internet Movie Database.