Making its Canadian premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal was Takashi Miike’s “Lesson of the Evil”. For those affected by any school shootings, this movie may not be for you.
Mr. Hasumi is a teacher working at Shinko Academy. Loved by students for his kindness, comprehension, and compassion, he is also appreciated by the school staff for being able to rationally solve numerous problematic situations. Good looking, confident, intelligent; he seems like the ideal man. However, as the surface seems calm and still, what lies beneath is truly horrifying: he has begun an illegal relationship with one of his students; he blackmails other teachers; and, as he had done in the previous school where he worked at, he murders students, or anyone who gets in his way, who begin to suspect him and cleverly passes them off as suicides. During one haunted house-themed night at Shinko Academy with his homeroom class, one murder goes wrong, and, with the help of a powerful, pitiless rifle, Hasumi decides he needs to eliminate them all.
The movie takes a while to take off, but it uses this time to demonstrate what an important role Hasumi plays in the lives of those who are involved in the school environment, in addition to showing us how much of a simple and kind man he is. He lives in a little, rundown house; he helps out a female student who is being sexually harassed by one of the other teachers; and calmly attempts to deal with an aggressive parent who complains that his daughter is being bullied. The wait is well worth it, as this all adds to the shock of seeing him go on a killing rampage throughout the school.
As mentioned above, anyone who finds it difficult to deal with school shootings probably shouldn’t view this film. Armed with a rifle, roaming through hallways, classes, and anything concerning the school environment, the sight of Hasumi sends chills down many spines as he coolly murders the students one by one. Boy or girl: he makes no distinction. What I particularly found interesting (but also extremely terrifying and gut-wrenching) is that he doesn’t blabber on right before a kill like many antagonists would do in countless American movies. By this, I mean that he doesn’t begin to explain to the student at hand why he is doing this, thus wasting time that he could have used in getting the murder over with before he gets interrupted by something or someone else, consequently saving the victim. In most cases, his cold stare pierces right through the students, ignoring their pleas, and sends them violently down a hallway or against a wall with the destructive force of his firearm. Truly spine-tingling.
Takashi Miike (director of such movies as “Audition” and “Ichi the Killer”) is known for making shocking movies. Nevertheless, while this one does not have any dissection of a human being with various tools, the outrageousness of the film comes from the ruthless onslaught of a man that we learned to love in the beginning of the movie, now a merciless monster who destroys everything in his passage.
“Lesson of the Evil” deserves 4 stars out of 5.