A few words of warning: Reading
the following will spoil the movie for you. I think. It never reaches any sort of real conclusion, but it's supposedly (regrettably?) the first in a trilogy
Suicide Club (or Suicide Circle, depending on what country you're in) is a Japanese film written and directed by Shion Sono. It takes place over the course of 6 days (May 26th to June 2nd, no year given but no reason to assume it isn't the present)
The movie opens with 54 schoolgirls joining hands and leaping in front of an oncoming subway car. There follows a tidal wave of blood, gore and general mayhem. No one knows what caused them to jump, just that they did it of their own free will. The film then cuts to a Hospital where a song by girl-group "Dessert" (In the subtitles it reads 'Dessart", but posters later in the film identify them as "Dessert" as do promo-materials) is keeping two young nurses company during their shift.
One of the nurses leaves to get food and asks the security guard to let her out. While she's gone, the other nurse simply steps out the window. When the second nurse returns from the bakery, she hands the security guard her lunch and steps out the window, offering only "See you later!". Left at the scene by an unknown party is a white sports bag.
The police (Led by Detective Kuroda) get involved, trying to figure out what would cause so many people to kill themselves. A girl calling herself "The Bat" phones them up and tips them off to a website that records the suicides, each woman represented by a red dot, each man by a white. The dots appear before the suicides are reported. She hangs up, leaving the police scratching their heads
In a nearby hospital, Kuroada and a fellow detective unveil the contents of the white sports bag: A roll of human skin, about 200 pieces, stitched together. Each of the suicide victims is missing a piece of skin. The police figure that if they can find the people with the wounds, they can stop the suicides.
At a school, a large group of kids joke about starting a "Suicide Club". They seem to become incensed by the idea, jumping up and down and shouting out ideas. They all join hands and leap from the roof, excepting three students who shake and step back. There was no coercion involved, they simply leapt.
A girl (Komori, I believe. The film isn't very good with names) is walking down the street when she is struck by the falling body of her boyfriend. He apologizes for hitting her, then dies. She is taken into custody by the police, questioned and made to strip. She is not missing skin. He, however, had a tattoo which is found on the roll of skin from the sport bag.
At home, Kuroda's kids are watching Dessert on the TV. His son shows him a website ("Ruins.com") which is a sort of e-mail chain letter to stop the suicides. Later, it becomes something else, but the subtitles don't tell us what. It looks to be some sort of poll or statistic.
That night, the police receive a call from a small boy telling them "There is no Suicide Club" and that he'll call back at 8 AM to talk to Kuroda.
At 8 AM a girl calls the office asking for Kuroda. He gets on the phone and hears the handoff to the little boy from the night before. The boy tells Kuroda that 50 more people will jump from the same subway track as the girls from the start of the film. He also tells him to look for the 6th chain. The police decide to stakeout the subway station
They remain at the station for a length of time. There are no jumpers. relieved, but suspicious, they all leave to go home. Meanwhile, 50 new dots appear on the website. A group of women hang themselves. A mother cuts her hand off, a man at a noodle cart swallows a bottle of aspirin. Suicides are happening all over the city, all to the tune of a new Dessert song. Kuroda returns home to find his children and wife dead, "Track 8 jump here" scrawled on the wall.
The film cuts to Bat being kidnapped by a group of boys calling themselves "The Suicide Club". She is taken to a bowling alley where she meets their flamboyant leader "Genesis". He keeps everyone is white laundry bags, including a number of animals laying in the lanes. He bursts into a bizarre song which glorifies death (This part is just strange beyond words. The Suicide Club breaks out instruments. So weird.) while one of the kidnappers rapes and murders a girl.
Back at Kuroda's house he gets a call from the little boy asking if he is connected to himself. He hangs up and kills himself, his last words proclaiming that SC is not the enemy.
Bat finds a computer in the bowling alley and sends an e-mail to the police. Genesis finds her and finishes the e-mail, giving the police his location
The cops arrest The Suicide Club. Genesis sings a Dessert song on camera and Dessert premiere a new song, "Jigsaw".
Komori goes to her boyfriend's house to go through his personal affects. She sees a Dessert poster on the wall and the phones begin to ring. She realizes that the poses of the members spell out "Suicide". She answers the phone and dials a PIN number gleaned from the poster. She gets the kid who gives her the same spiel he gave the police. Meanwhile, she gets word of a Dessert concert the next day
At the police station, word arrives that 200 people jumped from Osaka Castle.
6/2, the Final Day:
Komori gets backstage at the Dessert concert used a code she presumably got from her boyfriend's room. Backstage, there are dozens are children running around, some of them in yellow raincoats. She gets up on the stage and is put in the spotlight. When the curtain draws back, she faces an audience full of children. They ask her about her connection to herself. She replies that she is herself, that is her connection. They applaud and the curtain closes.
The next shot is inside some kind of incubator. There are a number of chicks running around, as well the children in the raincoats. There s a man with a leather mask on using a wood planer to, well, plane wood. He turns to the kids, tells them it's time and strips a piece of skin from Komori and another girl.
The police get a new roll of skin (Left near the body of the security guard from earlier in the film) with Komori's tattoo on it. One of the officers recognizes it and heads to the subway. While there, a group of school girls (All on their cellphones, with Dessert ring tones blaring), Komori among them, arrive at the station. The officer attempts to stop Komori, but she shakes her head and gets on the train with the others.
Dessert announce their final performance and the credits roll.
What? Like The Matrix: Revolutions, the movie starts off with tremendous promise only to drown under the weight of its own symbolic intentions. The start is filled with mystery and tension, but by the end I was frustrated. I didn't care what it had to say about modern Japan, it was arrogant and difficult.
There are many interpretations of the film available on the internet, but they all boil down to the same thing. There is much made of personal and intra-personal connections in the film. Also, as I understand it, suicide is a terrible epidemic in Japan. Not having the cultural context to really understand that, I'm just hoping that the next two films clear things up a bit.
Should you see Suicide Club? Sure. What's good is great and fun to watch. What's bad is, thankfully, really just in the last 15 minutes or so of the film. If nothing else, rent it for the outlandish Incubator and Bowling Alley scenes. A word of warning: The Blockbuster version, though identical in packaging, has a few small cuts made. Nothing major, but the uncut version has some really great moments of gore that are missing from the BB cut. (Namely, the head getting run over at the start. Gross!)