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Film Review: Suicide Club (2001)

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After a group of 54 school girls commit suicide simultaneously at a train station, police start investigating their deaths and try to connect the seemingly unrelated suicides that had been plaguing Japan. With the help of a woman who identifies herself as ‘The Bat’ and set to the music of a girl band called ‘Dessert’ detectives dive head first into the evils of pop culture and the effect it has on the Asian population.

Detective Kuroda – Ryo Ishibashi
Detective Shibusawa – Masatoshi Nagase
Detective Murata – Akaji Maro
Mitsuko – Saya Hagiwara
Kiyoko (Kmori, “The Bat”) – Yoko Kamon
Genesis – Rolly

‘Most Groundbreaking Film’ – Fantasia Film Festival


Taking place between the dates of May 26th – June 2nd, each day increases the urgency for detectives to find the cause of the rash of suicides that has swept through Japan. Det. Kuroda takes the case and tries to find meaning in the carnage while finding a new appreciation for his own family. The film opens with 54 schoolgirls standing at the train station. While they seem to be waiting to board as the train approaches they all grab hands, count to three, and jump onto the tracks in unison.

This is in the first 5 minutes and trust me, your jaw drops open. Then cut scene to footage of a group of adorable little girls performing their hit song ‘Mail Me’ and all seems right in the world. This movie is not for that faint of heart or avid animal lovers.

In a particularly graphic scene, a man named Genesis performs a song for certain visitors in his ‘Pleasure Room’ and portrays one of his minions raping and murdering a anonymous woman in a white sack. That’s only after he stomps an animal to death. The scene in normal context might seen extreme, but is carried and played out in a way that we might associate more with Saturday Morning kids shows. This in fact, is part of the genius of this movie.

Warning!!! The song he sings WILL get stuck in your head! I actually have it set as the ring tone when my sister calls. Complete with blood, guts, murder, suicide, rape, bad kids, and a gnarly human sushi roll, this is one of my favorite films. It is strange and half the time you’re wondering where the hell some of the parents are, but this film offers a surreal escape from the ordinary. Effects are pretty decent and the story line can be difficult to follow if you stop paying attention. But this is a film that I recommend be in your library. Their award was well deserved.

Suicide Club, while a powerful film, is rich in it’s ability to focus in the power of youth culture. The parody of it’s music and off beat scenes are counterbalanced by the violence and extreme nature of it’s fictioned reality There is a underlying message that says something about peer pressure and the naive sense that younger generations are diving into. The film tends to veer more towards making a statement about childhood and does so in a extremely horror-driven clever way. The heart of this film obviously lies in a Japanese cultural sense, though to westerners, this idea is not clear and rather for entertainment.

Do yourself a favor and check this one out, it may not register entirely in first run, but it will certainly leave a mark.

Suicide Club (2001)


  1. Cubicle Bob

    You’re joking right? As an actual story it is incomplete – there is no explanation of the suicides or the girl band. Although totally original I feel it it completely fails in delivering an actual story, societal overtones not withstanding. Even the David Bowie minion stomping small animals has nothing to do with the suicides. I don’t hate this movie – i just don’t understand what they want me to see. If it’s just some satire and social commentary I get it. Because it’s so violently obvious. Oh, and as a half caste myself, there is no cultural heart. It appears to be a story without an actual ending, or explanation.

    As a note, it’s quite difficult for the ‘parody’ and ‘extreme scenes’ to counterbalance ‘violence and extreme nature of it’s [sic[ reality’.

    In short, this movie is just gore trash from what is a fantasitc premise.

  2. Jay Stone

    I think what some find missing in this film is a lot is not explained and there is no “delivering an actual story.” We Americans are so used to a progressive story arc that resolves everything at the end. Nothing wrong with that as long as you realize that it’s the outcome of 2,000-plus years of Western civilization! A progressive story line with final resolution isn’t foreign to Japanese film makers, but the Japanese are more open to unexplained occurrences and open-endings. I think when we are conscious of our own cultural expectations we become more open to what films from other cultures have to offer us.

    In this case of this film, the reason(s) for the disturbing occurrences not being given makes them all the more frightening and bewildering, enabling us to identify with the characters who are experiencing the same thing. It also engages the audience’s imagination to ponder what might be causing these occurrences. It’s a different way of experiencing a film than the way we’re used to, and much more engrossing than having it all tied up in pretty bow for us at the end.


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