Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Suicide Club (2002)

Fifty four school girls held hands and jumped in front of a train in Tokyo, drenching everything around with blood and gore and shocking all of Japan. Shortly after, two nurses jump out of a hospital window to their deaths with absolutely no warning. As the amount suicides climb, the police investigate the baffling case. The only clue tying the incidences together is a coil made of strips of human skin, only a few belonging to the dead. What is causing people to kill themselves?

Suicide Club has a shocking, bizarre premise with many different threads making the whole story that occurs over only six days. The police are investigating the suicides headed by Detective Kuroda. Right at the beginning, Kuroda seems like the main protagonist, a seasoned cop working as hard as he can to solve the case. His family is normal with loving moments, bickering, and sullen teens. He doesn't turn out to be the main character. Mitsuko, a young woman almost killed by her boyfriend's suicide fall, plays a much more significant role when she finds clues in her boyfriend's apartment. I love this misdirection because Mitsuko doesn't have expertise and accomplishes more than the entire police force. It also derails the film from its police procedural formula to something else.

The most striking scenes of the film are the suicide scenes. The vast majority of them are done by fairly cheerful people or accompanied by the music of Dessert, a fictional children's pop group. Their music is vapid, cheerful, and people of all ages enjoy it. From the very first blood soaked train scene to a housewife smiling while chopping off her own fingers, these grisly scenes are burned into my brain because of the chilling duality and how each situation varies from the next. Other memorable scenes are obliquely related to the plot such as the glam rock gang headed by Genesis that wants to accept blame for the Suicide Circle. They end up being an odd, musical red herring.

Although Suicide Club is a different film that doesn't follow genre tropes, it's a bit of a mess. The film seems to be pointing to pop music or the internet as sources for the mysterious rash of suicides. However, the ending has more style over substance. There are no real answers which I don't mind, but the bigger questions being asked don't really resonate. It seems to be weird for the sake of being weird rather than connecting to the story. Also, all of the small threads felt more like a series of vignettes in the same world rather than a cohesive story. Overall, Suicide Club is a memorable film that started my love and interest in Japanese horror films. It's definitely dated and has flaws. However, the innovation in plot, misdirections, and cast of characters make me love it still.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

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