Fusing cyberpunk, manga, and splatter horror influences, directors Yudai Yamaguchi and Jun’ichi Yamamoto aim to deliver blood-soaked mayhem in Meatball Machine. Following the life of factory worker Yoji (Issei Takahashi) and his secret admiration for Sachiko (Aoba Kawai), the film quickly descends into chaos when monsters attack. Discovering these monsters are cytogenetically engineered humans with the intent to kill, Yoji must find a way to save the woman he loves.
Trying to dissect the plot of Meatball Machine is beyond tricky. The narrative is more a vehicle for gore effects than traditional storytelling. The short version of the story is a race of parasitic aliens are modifying humans into “Necro-borgs” so they can do battle and eventually devour one another. When Yoji discovers a dormant alien, it awakens and all hell breaks loose for him and Sachiko. Other plot points develop throughout the film. However, the primary focus is constantly delivering over-the-top violence and surpassing each previous kill.
“….a race of parasitic aliens are modifying humans into ‘Necro-borgs’ so they can do battle…”
After viewing the film, one cannot discuss it without congratulating the makeup, costuming, and special effects on display. The film is gruesome, stomach-churning, and at times strenuous to watch, which, in fairness, is the intent. The lengths the filmmakers and the special effects team behind it went to create a film that will seriously mess you up if you are not prepared is beyond impressive.
Meatball Machine is unsettling to the bitter end. However, those feelings prey entirely on the acts of violence rather than the connections to the characters or story. I understand not every midnight movie needs rich characters with an empathetic backstory, but no attempt is made here to give any role anything beyond one (if that) trait. The screenplay, written by Jun’ya Kato, Yudai Yamaguchi, Yukihiko Yamaguchi, Jun’ichi Yamamoto, is in a constant rush to get to the next explosion of entrails that it never pauses to let the audience gather their senses. Without that pause, you never recover or place meaning on anything within the story, and the tension dies.
When watching Meatball Machine, I could never deny its phenomenal costuming and world-class gore effects. However, as a midnight movie, Japanese horror offering, or even a b-splatter film, there are much better titles available, all with a much better payoff. These other productions still deliver the incredible loads of violence and viscera that Yudai Yamaguchi and Junichi Yamamoto are so keen on here. If blood is all you crave, this will do the trick, but if you seek content and carnage, Meatball Machine will only disappoint.
"…phenomenal costuming and world-class gore effects."