King of Thorn

King of Thorn

z82T4gf9HtKZvLtGGzVEbFn9uTZIn 2012, humans are facing a severe form of osteoporosis called the Medusa virus. It’s a fatal disease that eventually petrifies its victims. With attempts to cure the spreading disease all failing, biotechnology firm Venus Gate offers a controversial solution – freeze sleeping. Those afflicted with the Medusa virus are put into indefinite hibernation until scientists can find a cure. A highly sophisticated facility has been specially built and 160 randomly-selected people will be sleeping inside of it. Amongst these people is schoolgirl Kasumi who has to leave behind her twin sister, Shizuku, who wasn’t lucky enough to be picked. The building’s computer, A.L.I.C.E., will monitor the environment and monitor the patients. Everything looks like it’s going to plan, until a glitch in the system means all patients are ejected before their time. They awake to alien surroundings, but it seems they’ve only been in frozen sleep for 48 hours. What is going on?

king-of-thorn-3King of Thorn is a story based on half-truths: within society, between allies and even sisters. I had to be thinking and guessing all the time, trying to predict what happened next. Suffice to say, I was totally engaged from beginning to end. Kasumi and the other patients wake up from their supposed frozen sleep to find the facility overrun with vines and thorns. Not only that, but it is now inhabited by monstrous abberrations and dinosaur-like creatures. And they try to devour all the newly-awoken patients.

aYKuM0GjxecyvxLyfXVq58aFYGGThe survivors of this slaughter are minimal: a schoolgirl (Kasumi), a nurse, a policeman, a child, a soldier, a scientist and a senator. Thus begins a large focus of this movie – namely the dwindling humans fighting for survival in a foreign land against unknown enemies. Although it’s not the most original of storylines, I have to admit that it is one of my favourites (Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale being one of my favourite films of all time). As the small group begin to slowly learn what has happened to the facility, we begin to see some of their backstories showing their reactions to be selected and the people that they had to leave behind.

protectedimageFrom here things start getting a little complicated. Perhaps too complicated, as if often has to rewind parts just to make sure that I understood what was going on. It is discovered that Venus Gate have found a way to gain the ability to make dreams come true. This is seen through the fantasy elements throughout the backdrop and enhances the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ theme that has been prominent from the beginning. Disappointingly, this motif seems to be forgotten towards the end, but it was clear that this particular fairy tale was a motivation to creating this feature.

What impresses me here is the amount of plot twists that suddenly come at full force, which left me a little dazed to say the least. Despite all my ideas and twist-guessing, I still didn’t accurately pinpoint the reason behind the facilities drastic transformation. I’m reluctant to divulge ant spoilers in my reviews, but I will point out something that I said earlier: this film is full of half-truths. This concept in itself certainly gives a whole new expansion to where the plot can lead. There could have been a little more focus on the sub-plots, though. I feel like some of them weren’t fully explained or some just used as devices to offer a quick bit of explanation as to why something is happening before being forgotten about again. The Medusa virus was an interesting feature but, with suddenly being faced with hungry dinosaurs and rabid flying creatures, this does get put on the back-burner.

King-of-Thorn-2Suffice to say, King of Thorn did have me on the edge of my seat at times. There is a deliberate jolting and jarring sensation in some of the scenes that just made me anxious and always aware of the unpredictability of the survivors situation and the very real threat of being in the dark and not knowing what could happen next. The scenes are beautifully animated and set the scene for the futuristic fantasy/horror themes. What I enjoyed most is the way this film made me think and kept me guessing. Much like a fairytale, there was always a bit of mystery and curiosity that kept leading me into Sleeping Beauty’s tower…