Suicide Club or Suicide Circle as it’s known in Japan (the original Japanese title being Jisatsu Sākuru) starts in the horrific fashion that captures the essence of the film with fifty odd school girls holding hands and jumping in front of a subway train. The scene is filled with a lot of blood but a surprising lack of screaming with the girls singing as they jump and the general public seeming too stunned to react. The film follows detective Kuroda played by Ryo Ishibashi (Audition, The Grudge) along with his colleagues detectives Shibusawa and Murata played by Masatoshi Nagase and Akaji Maro respectively. The three detectives are tasked to solve the schoolgirls mass suicide and it soon becomes clear that this is only the start of a rash of suicides from all walks of life including two nurses.
A grizzly present is found at the site of several suicides in a white sports bag consisting of 10cm strips of skin sewn into a very long strip of the suicide victims suggests that there is more to this than meets the eye. The three detectives are pretty slow and are shown the connection by a hacker known as ‘The Bat’ via a website containing red and white dots corresponding to the suicide victims. From a seemingly simple start the film takes a very odd turn away from suicide towards out and out brutal murder in the guise of Genesis and self-titled Suicide Club. Genesis (Rolly Teranishi) is an amalgamation of David Bowie in Labyrinth and Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange with a penchant for murder and sparkly cat suits.
From the opening credits right until the closing credits, the soundtrack is provided by the pre-teen girl band Dessert hinting at more sinister messages to their upbeat pop songs. The sound track provides and eerie contrast to the casual death taking place on screen. The special effects in the film are naïve due to the low budget (only $250,000)but does not hamper the impact of the scenes in any way, although there is one point where you can see people throwing buckets of fake blood around. Amazingly, Suicide Club takes place over only six days from the 27th May until the 2nd June ending at Desserts final secret concert.
Suicide Club was written and directed by Sion Sono (Love Exposure, Noriko’s Dinner Table) and is a confident and complex film, if a little bewildering at times. It is the type of film that needs more than one viewing to get the most out of and leaves the viewer questioning and discomforted with no real resolution. This film does not fit neatly into any of the usual categories (serial killer, ghosts, creature features etc) rather sits as a commentary for life in the 21st century and people’s relationship with themselves, popular culture and the internet. Suicide club is not the film to watch when in the mood for jumps and scares, rather it niggles at the edge of your mind for hours afterwards.
Fun Fact: There is a manga of the same title written by Usamaru Furuya following a slightly different view point. If any of you have read it, let me know what you think in the comment section below!