SUICIDE CLUB (2001)
aka Jisatsu Sâkuru
Written and directed by Shion Sono
Japanese language with English subtitles
Available to buy and rent from TheHorrorShow.TV
When 54 female students throw themselves in front of a train in Tokyo, police detectives Kuroda and Shibu push to investigate the incident as a murder investigation. Despite their efforts, their superiors and colleagues class the deaths as suicide but what seems like a strange, singular incident proves not to be a one-off as teenagers around the country begin to commit suicide in various dramatic ways, from throwing theirselves off buildings to overdosing on pills. Is it part of an online pact, a Suicide Club, or is another evil force brainwashing the teens to take their lives?
I first heard about Suicide Club back at high school but it is only now, thanks to TheHorrorShow, that I have got around to watching this much-talked about Japanese horror-thriller. Back then, one scene was on everyone’s lips: the train track suicide. Did it live up to the hype? Yes and no. It did in the fact that I knew what was about to happen, and the pure tension of the girls lining up and holding hands before jumping really turned something inside of me – true horror at seeing a person, or a group of people’s intent at ending their lives. The execution (pun not intended) wasn’t as effective as I had imagined. The camera cuts away, leaving the rest to the imagination, though buckets of the red stuff are splashed over the train windows and innocent bystanders in a dramatic, exaggerated fashion. It’s undeniably dated but still works well enough to have an effect on the viewer.
With the few Japanese horrors I have seen, they take quite a dark, sombre note and SUICIDE CLUB is no different. The job of the detectives is a rather bleak one and they seem to be as much in the dark about the suicides as everyone else. Subsequently, the pace is rather slow and the plot takes its time to unwind, though it never fully explains itself in the way that you want it too but that is part of the charm of these movies. They hold back which kind of infuriates, but at the same time, would you really want it wrapped up neatly?
SUICIDE CLUB isn’t without its weirdness amongst the gory suicides. There’s a patchwork ribbon of flesh to occupy the forensic team, a mystery girl called The Bat (not me!) lends a hand in the investigation, and a sadistic glam metal band also make an appearance. It is downright odd at times and even though it’s not as effective as it would like to be, it still manages to fit with the style of the movie.
Unfortunately, despite it’s buckets of blood and gory humour “Here, here comes an ear”, SUICIDE CLUB doesn’t quite hit the high notes. Whilst it’s narrative on teens, their relationships with themselves and their family, their experience with peers and effects of media are evident, it never quite delivers nor picks up the momentum as an effective medium of storytelling. I’ve no doubt though that this cult flick will appeal to many for its sheer quirkiness and the infamous opening scene.