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“Invitation to Dance - It’s a Dance. And sometimes they turn the lights off in this ballroom. But we’ll dance anyway, you and I. Even in the Dark. Especially in the Dark. May I have the pleasure?” --- Stephen King ::::::::::: MY CRITERIA FOR DISCUSSION ENCOMPASSES THE HORROR GENRE AND BEYOND, SO I USE THE TERM "NIGHTMARE MOVIES". SPOILERS CAN OCCUR WITH OR WITHOUT WARNING. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Jisatsu Sākuru (Suicide Club)

June 24th 2010 00:52
Suicide Club DVD cover art
“The world is a jigsaw puzzle, somewhere there’s a fit for you … If you don’t fit … so long.”

Sion Sono’s infamous social commentary on Japan and the Western world translates directly as Suicide Circle (2001), but was adjusted for the international market to Suicide Club. Suicide Circle fits more succinctly into the plot mechanics of the movie, considering the macabre ring of flesh and the small red and white dots that are strong motifs throughout the movie, although admittedly Suicide Club does have a ring to it (pun intended).

Suicide Club flesh ring
The movie opens with a shocking scene of mass suicide; fifty-four teenage Japanese schoolgirls at a busy subway station stand at the edge of the platform, hold hands, and sing “One … Two … Three!” and throw themselves into the path of the hurtling train causing a mini-tidal wave of blood to spray over the stunned on-lookers. At a nearby high-rise hospital, later that evening, two young nurses jump to their deaths. Detectives are confounded, Tokyo is in shock … but there are plenty more suicides to come.
Suicide Club Ryo Ishibashi
Ryo Ishibashi as Detective Kuroda
Suicide Club Dessret
Detective Kuroda (Ryō Ishibashi) and his team are intent on solving this ghastly copycat effect. A white bag containing strips of human flesh sown together end-on-end to form a wound ring is the only clue, as is a tip-off to a mysterious website where white dots (females) and red dots (males) are steadily appearing across a screen, seemingly indicting the rising suicide rate. An anonymous phone call from an aloof child keeps the detectives guessing, taunting them with strange questions such as “Are you connected to yourself?”
Suicide Club Saya Hagiwara
Saya Hagiwara as Mitsuko
It seems like a young student Mitsuko (Saya Hagiwara) might eventually get to the bottom of the strangest of strange rituals. What is the connection between teeny-bopper all-girl pop sensation Dessart (AKA Desert AKA Dessret AKA Dessert), pop-punk singer Muneo 'Genesis' Suzuki (Rolly) and his own band, Kiyoko (Yōko Kamon), a cyber-surfer who prefers the name “The Bat”, and the hundreds of young people willingly committing suicide because it’s become something kind of perverse nihilistic trend …? Curiously the spelling changes of the teeny-bopper band reflects the Japanese language idiom and their attempts at Western phonetics, while cleverly sounding like “Death Art” (Dessart) and “Death Threat” (Dessret) under Japanese pronunciation.
Suicide Club suicide jump
Suicide Club computer deaths
The answers do not come easy in Suicide Club. Writer/director Sono is more interested in painting a cryptic, enigmatic, symbolic representation of his key themes: identity and dehumanisation, but most importantly, the love one needs to have with oneself. On one hand the movie was ahead of its time, as it deals indirectly with the unsettling rise of para-socialising; a dis-connected reality of communication between young people and adults that is being fueled by online social networking and the fame game (the desperate desire to experience fame by vicarious means through the lives and careers of movie and pop stars), and by the distortion provided by media via the power of pop culture.
Suicide Club Rolly
Rolly as Genesis and band
Suicide Club flesh patch
On the other hand Sono’s movie tightens a noose around its own throat by making a movie that is pretentious in its delivery and incredibly uneven in its tone and execution. The musical score to the movie attempts to work as a juxtaposition to events on screen, which works okay in the opening sequence, but through the rest of the movie it jars something dreadful, leaving the viewer unsure what kind of movie they’re watching. As a result the audience is alienated, which is deeply ironic. I found the cinematography intriguing, as the colour palette and ever-so-slightly fuzzy focus made the movie seem like it was some kind of weird, lost “mondo” movie from the 80s, of which the most striking scene of all was the origin of the flesh-strips.

Suicide Club fingers
Ostensibly Suicide Club is a post-modern horror movie, a social nightmare dripping with intent, but on a slippery slope. It’s a low-budget movie so the more elaborate death scenes are either suggested or executed with less-than-convincing special effects (although the mother casually slicing her fingers and half her hand off was, despite its limitations, pure Argento shock). Then we have the bizarre song scene where Genesis at a bowling alley strums a guitar and sings “Because the dead ... shine all night long", while dogs and cats in tied-up bags writhe and whine around him, and two female victims are terrorized. Had we slipped from dark satire into disturbing parody?

Suicide Club club initiation
As difficult and impenetrable a ring as Suicide Club is, the ultimate truth seems to be that the young generation – the kids – feel that adults have become too smug and complacent, that they have lost the bond that makes them compassionate to those around, and have become removed from their own children. The authorities and the educators have lost the upper hand. The villains, the real perpetrators of the heinous “suicide” murders are clandestine; riddles and equations hidden in the cyber chat-rooms, in the pop song lyrics and publicity, the marketing artwork.

Suicide Club tattoo
Complacency is a deadly vice. Perhaps masturbation is the answer? I’m being wickedly facetious, of course, but it seems the appropriate response to such a contentious movie.

“When rain drys, clouds form … When clouds moisten, rain falls.”
Suicide Circle movie poster


Here’s the very creepy trailer (with nightmarish fax sequence cut from the final release version):


Suicide Club DVD is courtesy of Madman Entertainment, many thanks!

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Comments
3 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by JohnDoe

June 24th 2010 18:41
Despite your lack of raving review, (Only read the first and last paragraph) I still am intrigued by this. Have it in the netflix queue for inevitable screening.


Comment by ShaunK

June 28th 2010 01:38
I've been dying to see this - uneven you say? Thats a pity, I almost bought it then thought - wait for Bryn's review....


Comment by Bryn

June 28th 2010 03:24
The director has a new movie out, Cold Fish, which is being bandied about for distribution rights.

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