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Film / Suicide Club

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Suicide Club (自殺サークル, Jisatsu Sākuru, lit: "Suicide Circle") is a 2001 Japanese independent horror film written and directed by Sion Sono.

In Tokyo, 54 schoolgirls leap in front of a subway train committing suicide. Shortly after, at a hospital, two nurses kill themselves by jumping out of a window. At both locations rolls of flesh are found, with the missing skin matching removed flesh on corpses. Three detectives are notified by a hacker named Kiyoko of a link between the suicides and a website that ties the mystery to an internet suicide cult around a guy named "Genesis". Within the next days, the suicide epidemic spreads over Japan and many more deaths occur. Will the police be able stop this mysterious epidemic?

A prequel/sequel, Noriko's Dinner Table, was released in 2006. A manga by Usamaru Furuya was also released at the same time of the movie's Japanese DVD release.

This work contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Attention Whore: It soon becomes clear that Genesis is not responsible for the epidemic of suicides plaguing Japan—he took credit for the mass deaths and formed the Suicide Club solely to get people to notice him.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The ending doesn't resolve very much and left many viewers puzzling. The most common interpretation is that Genesis has nothing to do with it and the J-pop band "Dessert" caused some kind of hysteria, but there's still a lot of room for interpretation.
  • Anyone Can Die: Has a huge body count and you have no idea who is going to go next. The students come from all parts of Japanese society and even nurses/cooks/etc. are not exempt.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Genesis, who really just wants attention, but his involvement in the suicides is dubious at best.
  • Book Ends: Footage from a fictional pop group named "Dessert" opens and closes the film.
  • The Coroner: To some extent; while cleaning up a scene of a mass suicide, one of the crew casually states "Here comes an ear," while scraping body parts from the side of a building.
  • Creepy Child: Most of the suicides are by young people, so damn near everyone, but especially the mysterious boy who keeps calling Kuroda.
  • Cult: There seems to be a suicide cult around Genesis. This turns out to be a red herring, as he's more of a harmless wannabe.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Genesis strongly resembles the character Genesis from the Final Fantasy VII Compilation, and both resemble Japanese pop/rock singer GACKT (of course, Final Fantasy Genesis didn't appear until four years after Suicide Club)
    • Actually, it can remind people of Frankenfurter. Apparently, they later admitted the character was an homage to him.
    • The actor, Rolly Teranishi, is most well known in Japan as a musician from the band Scanch. He kind of looks like that outside of the film, too.
  • Driven to Suicide: The main premise of the film is that people all across Japan are committing suicide at an alarming rate and in deliberately gruesome ways to get attention. As such, all but two of the hundreds of deaths in this movie are suicides. The message of the film seems to be getting the authorities and public to open their eyes to the country's high rate of teenage suicides, even if it is disturbingly Played for Laughs half of the time.
  • Expy: Suffice it to say that some people's first reaction upon seeing Genesis was "Holy shit, it's Japanese David Bowie!"
  • Faux Affably Evil: "Hi there, my name's Genesis. I've had delusions of grandeur since I was a child..."
  • A Good Way to Die: One day, Mitsuko is on her way home when she gets hit by her boyfriend, Masa, who has jumped off a roof, because he thought it was a good way to leave this earth (he barely survives the jump).
  • Gratuitous English
  • High-Pressure Blood: The mass suicide of students in the film's opening leaves the onlookers splattered in blood and liquid gore.
  • Idol Singer: The pre-teen idol group Dessert, whose songs and promotional material contain subliminal messages encouraging suicide.
  • Kick the Dog: A villain in the film, Genesis, almost literally does this with a small animal trapped in a cloth cover. Since the distributor outside of Japan decided to censor the scene to get an R rating for the film, it is unknown whether the animal abuse was real or not. And committed by a famous Japanese tarento, no less.
  • Kids Are Cruel:
    • A pre-teen pop band uses subliminal messages to get as many people as they can to off themselves.
    • Subverted in the sequel when it turns out that the original 54 suicides were merely employees sacrificed by the owner of the family rental service to teach a lesson to one of the sequel's protagonists and everyone else in the movie just followed suit because, if all the cool kids jumped in front of a train, wouldn't you jump too?
  • Large Ham: Genesis and his gang. Also the four women who hang themselves during the suicide montage.
  • Lyrical Dissonance
  • Mind Screw: The movie jumps headfirst into this territory towards the end. The penultimate scene of the film is frustratingly similar to the ending of the Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Most students are just ordinary teenagers with not much to set them apart from others. They still commit mass suicide.
  • Red Herring: Genesis is the leader of his group which seems to be a suicide cult, but he turns out to be a poser who doesn't seem to have any involvement in the mass suicides.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: There are several scenes of happy, bubbly, J-Pop songs playing over shots of people's gory suicides.
  • Spell My Name With An S: The idol group's name is spelled "Dessert", "Dessart", "Desert", and "Desret". Apparently they're so good at screwing with other people's minds that even their producers don't get them.
  • Subliminal Seduction: The most common interpretation of the movie: the J-pop band "Dessert" screwed with the minds of the students through their music so that mass hysteria broke out.
  • Suicide Is Painless: There are LOTS of suicides in this movie, and almost all of them have the perpetrators smiling, making it even more grotesque:
    • The 54 teenage girls in the beginning are happily smiling and gladly awaiting their death when jumping in front of the subway. They show not the slightest bit of fear of death.
    • One day later, a group of students jumps from the roof as if it would be the most casual thing in the world, laughing and holding hands. Three of them survive at first but fall from the roof shortly after.
    • While preparing a meal, one woman smiles as she casually slices through her fingers with her knife—in front of her own daughter. She doesn't die, but it does seem like she was trying to.
    • A comedian stabbing himself in the throat in the middle of a show. The audience is terrified, but he seems happy enough.
  • Verbal Tic: The child who calls Kuroda clears his throat after almost every sentence.
  • Villain Song: In one particularly surreal scene, Genesis suddenly breaks into song, complete with a guitar and his own backup band, while one of his men rapes and murders a woman in the same screen. Almost certainly an intentional subversion, as Genesis ironically turns out to have absolutely nothing to do with the suicides and is merely a random psychopath who REALLY wants the attention.
  • Your Head A-Splode: In the opening scene of the director's cut.