What the hell happened!?!
The young man Teru wakes up in the middle of a wrecked traincar. Hes hurt and doesnt remember how he got there, but gradually it comes back to him. He was in a train... with his class... and then... something happened.
All around him his dead classmates lie mutilated and the train is a mess. As he makes his way out he sees that the train has crashed in a tunnel. Both sides of the tunnel has collapsed. Theres no way out.
Eventually he realises that hes not alone. There are two more survivors. A frightened and hurt girl, Aku and a demented boy Nobuo who keeps screaming The red light! didnt you see the red light?!.
The tunnel is unstable and when another section collapses a large pipe is exposed. Knowing that the tunnel wont last long, Teru drags Aku with him into the pipe.
They crawl for days and finally they see a light. But when they emerge from the pipe they are faced with a horrible sight: All around them, as far as the eye can see, the earth has been reduced to a barren wasteland. Everything is covered is ashes and the sky is covered by dark clouds. The earth as they knew it, is no more...
Im a sucker for apocalyptic films. The Canadian indie movie Last Night is one of the best, recent films like Resident Evil and 28 Days Later (both zombie films) also impressed me, as did the classic Miracle Mile from 1984 finally released on region 1 DVD in June of 2003.
The key factor in making an apocalyptic movie work is mood. As audience we really have to feel the panic, the sense of imminent danger. If our eyes during the film should wander around the theater to see who we would save, or wander around the living room to see what essentials we could carry if we have to leave NOW, then the film is truly working!
The first 40 minutes of Dragonhead takes place inside the collapsed tunnel. That may sound boring, but the film uses this portion of the plot to great effect. The drama that plays out between the 3 survivors is a sign of things to come. Theres a great claustrophobic eerie mood over this part of the movie, and it perfectly sets the stage for what follows in the real world.
Part of the attraction in Dragonhead is figuring out what the hell went wrong. I wont reveal any details about the plot after Teru and Aku make their way out of the pipe, but suffice to say that from the ashes of the world, humankind emerges to show its true face...
Visually the film is stunning. Though its shot on digital video this is only apparent in e few scenes, and even then I get the feeling that its on purpose. Otherwise the film has a pleasing, if rough, look and the post-apocalyptic world is beautifully illustrated with the help of some truly mind-blowing state-of-the-art digital effects.
Dragonhead left a strong impression on me. Its deeply unsettling and profoundly sad. I usually dont watch the end credits when I watch Asian films, because I dont understand a word of them, but with Dragonhead it just felt wrong to stop the film. As if it would rob the characters of their last hope. So I watched the film all the way to the very end.