I originally watched this just because Crunchyroll put another movie on their service, it was an hour long, it was starting to get late, this would be something easy to write about so I can fill some space on my blog. I was honestly surprised with how much I enjoyed myself with this movie. I know that it’s an average at best horror movie, but the Ao Oni did some things extremely well that surprised me. It also reminded me of those teen slasher films that I used to watch growing up, so there a mild nostalgia factor that goes along with my enjoyment as well.
Ao Oni’s story is pretty standard for a horror film. The cultural anthropology club needs to up an event for their school carnival, so they use a local legend of Bell Flower demon as their theme. Since that theme is also connected to a free to play mobile game, they thought that it would add more notoriety to their festival event. The cultural anthropology club also sets up a meeting with the author of the game, but he dies suspiciously before they can meet up with him. I think you guys know what happens after that. They investigate more, the legend becomes true, and death soon follows them (spoilers). The anime has no distinct characters in it, so you can’t get attached to these people as they start being killed off. In some ways that’s bad, because there aren’t any characters to anchor you in for this thrill ride.
The visual aspects of Ao Oni, besides the cinematography, are all terrible. Obvious CG is obvious. The character designs were copy and paste, everybody moved incredibly stiffly, the facial expressions were terrible, and the high school setting was just plain ordinary. The monster design was cool and the CG worked to make it feel not from this world. That might not be the intention though. Also, when the monster started attacking, the lighting and the camera angles were great. I could forget that I was watching bad cg just for those moments.
I found some enjoyment from this movie, but I am not sure if I would recommend it to people to watch. Not unless you used to watch those bad teenage slasher films like I used to. I do admit that the mystery behind what was going on was interesting, the twist ending was fun, and the cinematography was good at certain moments, but other than all that it was still average at best. There isn’t anything to really anchor the viewer to watch it or good characters that you care about enough in hopes that they succeed. I guess I could also recommend this to people who have an hour to kill like I did. Ao Oni is not a complete waste of time for that purpose.