International Title: Suicide Club
Romaji: Jisatsu Sakuru
Japanese Title: 自殺サークル
Release Date: 23rd June 2002 (Japan)
Running Time: 94 mins.
Director: Sion Sono
Writer: Sion Sono
Starring: Ryo Ishibashi, Akaji Maro, Masatoshi Nagase, Saya Hagiwara, Hideo Sako, Takashi Nomura, Kimiko Yo, Rolly
Although Sion Sono started making films back in 1987 it was 2002’s Suicide Circle which truly put him on the map with its mix of black humour, social observation, and an audacious opening in which a whole bunch of commuters at Shinjuku station get soaked in a whole lot of gore.
25th May, Shinjuku Station. The place is packed with commuters waiting to go home. Nobody takes any notice of the fifty-four smiling school girls who gather at edge of a platform as a train approaches until they link hands and jump in front of that train. This is the start of a wave of suicides that strikes Tokyo which coincides with the emergence of a J-Pop group named Dessert. The police are uncertain as to whether this is suicide or an accident but when a mysterious phone call from a hacker named ‘the Bat’ tips off Detective Kuroda (Ryo Ishibashi) about a suspicious website (maru.ne.jp) that tracks the suicides before they actually happen the police begin to investigate.
Sono’s films regularly examine issues surrounding identity in modern Japan. These issues have long been a source of ideas since his earliest films which regularly focussed on outsiders. He usually explores these issues using genre frameworks like comedy (Love Exposure), crime (Cold Fish/Guilty of Romance), and melodrama (Himizu) and sometimes he combines genres, which makes his films wildly unpredictable. Suicide Circle can be counted as his horror picture as we get familiar genre trademarks amidst his exploration of identity and suicide.
Hey let’s all kill ourselves!
One can watch Suicide Circle and exult in the glorious black humour and horror since it features many absurd situations and grisly death scenes with copious amounts of gore and blood splashed around¹ but for Sono the real horror is what drives people to commit suicide and the existential crises that modern people face.