DVD. Cine du Monde.
Sono is one of Japan’s more interesting directors, responsible
for films like Cold Fish
and Guilty of Romance.
This 2001 production is the movie that first caught the attention
of cult movie fans, and ten years on, it still have the power
to shock, intrigue and frustrate.
The film opens up with the suicides of 54 schoolgirls, who cheerfully
line up at the edge of a subway station platform and then throw
themselves in front of the oncoming train. This is just the first
of a series of inexplicable suicides, often done en masse, and
mostly by schoolkids. The police are baffled, though they are
given clues from both an internet forum poster called The Bat
and another mysterious caller. The clues point to a strange website
where coloured dots appear to correspond to the number of suicides,
and also lead to a teenybop group called (depending on the whim
of the subtitles) Desert, Dessert or Dessret), who may have hidden,
cryptic messages in their songs. Add to this the long strips of
human flesh, stitched together from hundreds of different people,
that the police find, and a bizarre, murderous glam rock cult
who claim responsibility for the suicide cult, and you have a
film that poses plenty of questions and fails to answer any of
This ambiguity, alongside mysterious figures who are unidentified,
plot lines that go nowhere and a series of bizarre scenes that
make no sense, will probably alienate a lpt of viewers. I have
to admit that, as fascinating and visually startling a film as
this is, my initial reaction when the closing credits began to
roll was ‘what the fuck..?’. While I don’t
need films to spell out every little mystery, I do at least want
them to make some sort of sense. Suicide Club
seems deliberately designed to be a frustrating experience.
But once you accept that fact, this is a remarkable movie, full
of extraordinary moments – scenes of graphic gore and matched
by deeply unsettling suicide scenes that are genuinely harrowing.
And the sense of disorientation that you experience while watching
the film seems strangely appropriate for a mystery that, by its
very nature, can never make sense.
I can’t whole-heartedly say that this is a film for everyone
– but if you are willing to go with the flow of the fractured
narrative, you might well find this to be worth the frustration.
Just don’t expect to feel happy at the end of it.
IT NOW (UK)
IT NOW (USA)