Starring: Ryô Ishibashi, Masatoshi Nagase, Akaji Maro
Director: Sion Sono
Running Time: 99 mins
Suicide Club is a Japanese film about a group of detectives who try to get to the bottom of a series of bizarre and gruesome mass suicides.
For a film with such an insane premise and with so much gruesome gore, I really didn’t expect to like Suicide Club that much. However, with an intriguing and mysterious story throughout, plus a fantastic tendency to go all out with some often revolting levels of gore, there’s a lot of fun to be had with this movie, and although it’s not a hugely impressive piece of horror cinema, it’s crazy and shocking enough to entice you from start to finish.
So, let’s start off with what really makes this film memorable: the horror. This is a very graphic and gory film right the way through, and even a little sickly at times, so I do suggest you think twice before going into this movie if you’re not of the gory horror disposition. With that said, everything here is so excessively violent that it actually becomes pretty entertaining to watch.
That’s not to say that it’s still not an uncomfortable horror movie, but what Suicide Club does really well is shock you again and again with some incredibly frank horror, all the while presenting it in a sufficiently over-the-top style for it to not feel all that sinister, which makes the film far more enjoyable and bearable than I expected.
What’s more is that the film is very keen on being weird and unsettling rather than simply outright violent. Whilst the bloodiest scenes do stick in the mind well, the moments when we see some of the mass suicides play out to the tune of a light-hearted melody, or the frequent suggestions of a 12 year old girl band’s possible involvement in the series of bizarre incidents, are what really give this film its fantastically strange character, and add yet another level to the freaky enjoyment of it all.
Fortunately, however, this film does have a story that works on its own away from the horror. Above all, the plot, following a group of detectives regularly shocked at the inexplicable nature of such grisly suicides, does very well to keep a mysterious element in play for the majority of the movie. It wouldn’t work quite as well without the film’s fun-loving and ridiculous tendencies, which is why some of the more outlandish and preposterous story lines are a lot more interesting to follow, but the plot is generally very well-orchestrated, and definitely interesting enough to keep you engaged throughout.
With that said, there are a few issues that I do have with this film. As fun and mysterious as the plot is for the first three quarters, I have to say that the final act is a little underwhelming, and after a scene in a bowling alley too ridiculous even for this movie, things don’t stay quite as engrossing, taking away from the crazy mystery and horror that makes the early parts work so well.
What’s more is that this isn’t the most impressive film in the world. Subversive and shocking it may be, but when it comes to its technical prowess, this film isn’t quite so strong. As well as director Sion Sono does to create that unique atmosphere, the film is generally quite a visually bland watch, and could have definitely done with a little more eccentricity to add to the craziness of it all.
And then there are the performances. Definitely not helped by the fact that the story lacks a proper main character, the actors here aren’t the most effective in bringing some of the more unsettling and dark sides of the story to light. As fun and weird as so much of the movie is, a lot of the more serious undertones don’t hit home, such as ideas like fear of the Internet, impressionability and personal grief, and that’s down to the actors not quite giving strong enough shows to make you care about the true horror of their situation.
On the whole, I did enjoy Suicide Club. It’s an incredibly weird and unsettling movie that really doesn’t hold back when it comes to violent gore, but with a heightened and fun-loving atmosphere to it, it can be a pretty entertaining watch. However, it’s not a work of art, and doesn’t do enough to really leave a lasting impact on you as anything more than a crazy cult horror movie, which is why I’m giving it a 7.5.