Suicide Club (2002)

Suicide Club (2002)
Director & Writer: Shion Sono - Starring: Ryo Ishibashi, Akaji Maro, Masatoshi Nagase, Hideo Sako, & Saya Hagiwara.
Updated: 02-26-2006

At last -- irrefutable proof that Pop Music is Evil.

In the opening moments of Suicide Club, as several Japanese schoolgirls are mowed down by a subway train that showers the platform with garishly bright blood spray (all set to music that sounds like it was borrowed from an Irish Spring commercial, mind you), it's hard to tell what kind of tone the film is going for. Is this Horror-Comedy of the intentional or unintentional variety?

Considering that the next scene is a music video for the pop group "Dessert" (or "Dessart," or "Dessret," since the spelling changes with every scene they are in), in which a bunch of exuberant 12 year old girls sing and dance around to an inane little tune called "Mail Me," you may consider the tone of Suicide Club to be fairly tongue in cheek. But then the film switches gears, as police detectives Kuroda (Ryo Ishibashi) and Shibu (Masatoshi Nagase) grimly investigate the apparent mass suicide that is only the latest in a grisly trend of suicides. They get their first clue that the deaths may be more than mere suicides, however, when an anonymous informant calling herself Koomori, or "The Bat" (Yoko Kamon) tips them off to a website that contains rows of red and white dots -- red for females, white for males. The number of dots matches the number of recent suicides identically. Most intriguing of all, the page updates to reflect a new number of dots every time there are more suicides -- but it does so before the suicides are reported to the public. Adding to the mystery is a series of identical white bags found at the scene of each suicide, each of them bearing some rather strange and gruesome contents.

As the police frantically try to track down the owner of the website and prevent the next rash of suicides, a high school girl named Mitsuko (Saya Hagiwara) decides to do a little investigating of her own, after she witnesses several of her schoolmates jump to their death, followed by her boyfriend, who takes his own swan song from her apartment building and nearly lands on her. What she discovers is an irrefutable link between the suicides and the popularity of Dessart's music videos (and believe me, if anyone watched enough of this insipid and squeaky clean pre-teen J-pop, taking a header from the top of a building might not seem like such a bad idea). Her investigation leads her to a strange cult that makes poor Mitsuko endure a ritual that looks like something straight out of a Takashi Miike film.

Meanwhile, the police's investigation leads them to the hideout of a freak of nature named "Genesis" (played by freak of nature Rolly Teranishi), a bleach-blonde asexual weirdo who keeps victims tied up in white sheets in his "Pleasure Room" (an abandoned bowling alley) and breaks into hilariously spontaneous bits of song.

It all gets rather muddled and forgettable by the final act, but Suicide Club still has its share of redeeming qualities. For the gorehounds, there's plenty of body parts and arterial spray (although the camera's eye is averted during the more gruesome bits). For those looking for a laugh, there are more than a few to be found, and those hoping for moments of scary tension will discover a few of these as well. The scene of Mitsuko watching her classmates challenge each other to commit suicide as a prank yields some fairly horrific results, and is a chilling and all-too-plausible depiction of peer pressure and group mentality gone horribly wrong. Alas, the whole mix never quite gels, and Suicide Club ultimately meanders towards a perplexing and underwhelming conclusion. Nevertheless, it scores points for having a fairly original premise, and at least it is refreshingly free of creaky female ghosts who hide behind long, dark, stringy hair. If nothing else, it shows Pop music (especially the prefabricated kind aimed at the "tween" demographic) for the mind-numbingly evil influence that it really is.

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