LIFF27 - After School Midnighters - Cinema Review

'It's remarkable that a film so full of invention should then rely on something so familiar.'

On the face of things After School Midnighters might just be the craziest animation you've ever seen. With a cast of main characters that includes an anatomical skeleton and an actual skeleton, and a supporting cast that includes three zombie, gun-toting rabbits, it's little surprise to find that, at least in part, the apparent craziness of Hitoshi Takekiyo's film continues past face-value appearances.

What's perhaps more surprising than this though is that After School Midnighters, despite all of the craziness, manages to water itself down in some very familiar ways. The plot, most importantly, makes you wonder if this was originally conceived as a videogame.

A lead trio of stereotypically characterised protagonists are invited to a school by the aforementioned skeletons, who need them to complete three challenges, earn three gold medals and receive a wish they hope will be spent on saving the school. Taking up the challenge, our heroes face a level (sorry: 'scene') in a swimming pool, one in a computer room and a final challenge in the music room, as well as a side-quest in the abandoned old school building. It's exactly the sort of narrative that doesn't work when directors try to directly port games to screen; achieving this sort of thing yourself in-game is fun, watching someone else do it for you is not.

Of course, After School Midnighters is aimed at the very young, but even amongst that crowd present at the screening, there was some fidgeting; they knew exactly where this was going because the plot told them so at the very outset, and then did little to change expectations. It's remarkable that a film so full of invention should then rely on something so familiar.

As if to emphasise the fact that, to a degree, Takekiyo's film is all appearance and no substance, there's also some remarkably obvious product placement, with one of the skeletons spending every scene adjusting a laptop so that the logo of the producer does a nice little wiggle in front of your face. It's quite bizarre, and that's before you've even got to the legion of many little fish men and those Mafia-influenced rabbits.

After School Midnighters plays LIFF again on Monday 18th at 16.00 in The Everyman.

The 27th Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF) takes place from the 6th-21st November at cinemas around the city, including Hyde Park Picture House and Leeds Town Hall. Tickets and more information are available via the official LIFF website.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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