Starring: Reina Triendl, Mariko Shinoda, Erina Mano
Director: Sion Sono
Running Time: 85 mins
Tag is a Japanese film about a high school girl who, after witnessing a horrifying event, soon finds herself desperately escaping from a dark force, growing increasingly unsure of what the world around her and her own identity is.
There’s psychotic, and then there are films like this. From legendarily crazy director Sion Sono, Tag is a brilliantly bloody and simply insane movie that will shock and weird you out from start to finish with its bizarre story and endless gore. However, with a distinctly self-aware atmosphere that somehow makes insane terror hugely entertaining, the film is actually just as fun as it is totally weird, and making for an hour and a half of brilliant and unforgettable thrills and spills.
Let’s start at the very beginning, with the film’s opening scene. Director Sion Sono is already notorious for an infamous opening scene, where we see a row of schoolgirls all jump to their deaths in front of a subway train at the beginning of Suicide Club. Tag, however, tops even that, with an insane and shocking opening scene in which an entire schoolbus befalls a particularly grisly fate. I won’t spoil exactly what it is, but given the nature of Sono’s films, and the growing tension and eeriness throughout the opening sequence, it will really take you aback within seconds.
From then on, the film kicks everything up a gear as the story turns into a weird and almost unfathomable chase, as we follow our main heroine desperately try to escape whatever dark force seems to be on her tail, and causing the brutal deaths of all those around her.
And that’s what I really loved most about this movie, the fact that it keeps moving at a considerable pace and energy throughout no matter how mad or ridiculous the twists or deaths on screen are. It’s a really well-written film, and the story features some both interesting and equally exhilarating twists that are as entertaining as they are exciting, however it’s the way that Sion Sono manages to keep you so engrossed through all of that madness that’s most impressive.
Sono is always labelled as a director that ‘pushes the boundaries’, and Tag is yet another perfect example of just that. While it repeats and reinforces Sono’s love for gore and comic book violence, it shows another side to him, a confident and unbending delivery of a story and premise that just shouldn’t work, or ever be taken seriously.
The plot here is insane at every moment, the violence is even crazier, and all of it should come together to make a laughably bad and totally ridiculous movie, however it’s the fact that Sono creates a film with such intensity, pace and entrancing weirdness that turns Tag into a truly enthralling and genuinely exhilarating watch, as you just can’t take your eyes off the screen for fear that you’ll miss the next big burst of blood and guts, and in the meantime are treated to a genuinely clever and surprisingly engrossing story.
Overall, I absolutely loved Tag. Utterly ridiculous and endlessly surprising, it’s a film that in all honesty shouldn’t work, but thanks to brilliant directing from start to finish, it’s a movie that you really can’t take your eyes off, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.0.