SUICIDE CIRCLECREEPY OR CRAPPY? | Jul 23, 2003
As the bodies hit the pavement below, the special effects team throws
their two buckets of paint on the cafeteria windows. Most coolness ends
Suicide Circle has been called Japan’s take on Heathers. Sure it’s got a lot of gore, but is it a better film? No. Should it even be compared to Heathers? Not really. They both have teenage kids committing suicide, but they don’t even belong in the same ballpark.
Suicide Circle opens during rush hour on in a subway station in Japan. 54 schoolgirls dressed in uniform line up next to the edge of the platform, beyond the “Do not cross this line if you wish to live” line. They clasp hands, count to 3, and right as the train comes into the station they jump. 54 schoolgirls go splattering everywhere. Blood flies, covering the people waiting for the trains. It sounds great, and it looks cool, although very fake. I swear they must have had just two guys with buckets filled with red blood that they threw at the camera as the train passed. But the coolest moments of the film lie within the first 20 minutes.
The film has something to do with fans of an underage j-pop girl band that influence the fans to commit suicide en mass. The police find out there’s a web site that tallies the suicides before they happen, and at the scenes of the suicides they find these giant rolls of skin patches stitched together that look suspiciously like ganja sized cinnabuns.
Of course the patches of skin are all from the boys and girls that have committed suicide, but as to how their skin ended up on the roll, and how the web site tallies the deaths before they happen, even though some of the deaths appear accidental, the police have no clues. The girl band figures somehow in the mix singing songs with messages about being yourself and being true to yourself, and loving yourself, and yada, yada, yada, but somehow their underlying message is be yourself, kill yourself. If underage, prepubescent Japanese pop stars in a band called Desert/Dessert/or Desart (the spelling varies from scene to scene, and from merchandise product to product) singing annoying tunes about loving your self more and sending email doesn’t scare you, nothing will.
If it sounds like all of these elements are pretty loosely tied together, if tied together at all it’s because they never really try to bring together these separate elements, even at the end of the film. Some characters are introduced only to disappear with no explanation 15 minutes later, you spend half the movie without a main character, and most of the reasons for suicide are laughably bad. After about 20 minutes, you’ve seen the creepy girl band, the flesh cinnabuns, and are finally treated to a bunch of schoolgirls and boys pretending to be a suicide club. They happen to be having lunch on the rooftop of the school when one girl states, “Who wants to watch me die? I’m dieing today.” She runs to the edge of the building and says she’s gonna jump. Come watch.
The kids line up at the edge of the building and chant “Suicide Club! Suicide Club!” while she prepares to jump. She makes sure they all hold hands with her, and then she jumps. Now what I don’t get is how all the kids fall to their death. The girl is a stick. She’s holding two people’s hands, but there’s no way a little stick could tug everyone to their death by jumping off the building. Most of the kids thought she was joking, so some should have wanted to live. There had to be a struggle to stay on the top of the building. But alas, no. This film isn’t supposed to make sense. Only three people are left at the top and they decide jumping looks pretty good too. You could say they felt guilty their friends fell to their death and thought they should join them. I figure the dead schoolchildren below looked pretty hip. Everybody’s doing it, why don’t they? As the bodies hit the pavement below, the same special effects team throws their two buckets of paint on the cafeteria windows. Most coolness ends here.
For most of the film you follow a cop who is investigating the suicides. He has some kids that have an obsession with Desert/Dessert/Desart and of course they kill themselves. Once he sees the scene of their deaths he receives a call from a little kid with emphysema who asks him if he knows how he is connected to himself. A pseudo intellectual conversation follows and the cop kills himself.
At this point you’re like, WHAT THE FUCK? I just invested half my time in this character, who I thought was the main character, and he kills himself. What’s going on? The film then sort or visits a few other characters trying to figure out who should be the main character, only settling on one about 10 minutes before the film ends. Halfway through that meandering you’re introduced to a goth reject group calling themselves the Suicide Club who kidnap a character you’ve only seen for like 2 minutes in the film so far, and they kill a dog and a chick all the while singing rock songs, sorta like Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. These guys are pretty entertaining. They are so messed up and weird, and overall comical that you end up liking these guys. But give the film another 20 minutes and those characters were just a group of Rocky Horror fan types that wanted to capitalize on the suicides and really had nothing to do with anything in the story.
Insert second WHAT THE FUCK? Here. After the film decides on the final main character you see the place where the skin patches are cut off, deep underground a desert/dessert/desart concert. It’s dark, it’s twisted, it’s sick. We’re getting back on track. There’s hope for this film yet. But where would this film be without repeating the pattern it’s provided twice before. Let’s just toss everything cool we’ve done aside shall we.
The film ends in such an odd way I believe the writer just felt like calling it quits. Nothing is tied up. The same pseudo-philosophical questions of “What is your connection to yourself?” and related others are asked over and over but never answered. It just ends. Not like a cool abrupt ending like in The Pusher, but an abrupt ending like being in the middle of a film when the power goes out. In a better film you would be pissed off but at this point you no longer care.
This film had so much promise only to drop the ball not once, not twice, but three times. The first 20 minutes are cool. The J-Goth Rocky Horror freaks are funny. But they can’t save this movie from being a stinker. If you’re in San Francisco, save your money. See Ichi the Killer instead. This is one case where a Hollywood remake could fix the problems in the original.
If this review doesn’t make much sense I apologize. I tried to summarize this as best I could, but as so many elements of this film don’t make logical sense, it’s impossible to have a coherent review.
If I had only 20 minutes to watch some crazy, mindless action, the beginning of this film would be fine. If I want to see a good crazy action film with Japanese school kids, that actually says something important about our society at the same time, I’d just pop in Battle Royale.