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Showing 1-10 of 14 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
VINE VOICEon January 19, 2004
It's one of those movies that annoys one royally, not because it's ineptly made, but because it's well-made but squanders a lot of potential.
The opening scenes are remarkable and memorable. Fifty-four girls go to a train platform, laughing and joking, and as a train approaches, almost playfully take hands and jump under the train's wheels, where they're all killed in some amazingly explicit footage.
The suspense is mounting...what is causing the wave of suicides among Japan's youth? What is the meaning of the strips of skin taken from each corpse, found in a bag at each crime scene, sewn together in a grisly chain? What is the meaning of the website that logs the suicides as they happen, before they're reported or even discovered?
Unfortunately, the story is largely unresolved at the end. After getting off to such a great and intriguing start, it seems as if the writers and directors had no idea of where to take the story or how to end it. Plot elements are dropped. Important characters disappear halfway through. Insignificant characters suddenly take center stage. Time is wasted on red-herring subplots. The conclusion is a garbled mess that will leave the viewer scratching his head. The film comes to a stop rather than a satisfactory end.
It's too bad, because the first half is so good and haunting. It's frustrating to see it veer off into surreal, pretentious nonsense.
There's a great story here, waiting for a cohesive ending. With the wave of Asian-horror remakes on the way from Hollywood (DARK WATER, THE GRUDGE, etc), I almost hope some producer will take the first half of this movie and make a more comprehensible ending for it.
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on February 28, 2004
The film starts off wonderfully with the infamous multiple train-jumping suicide. It's right there on platform 8, the chuo-sen (I will definitely think odd thoughts next time I catch that one!), the music from Shinjuku station is going, and the very creepy combination of such akarui kids all jumping - why? Something is just wrong, in the air... This is followed up by some very disturbing scenes of more suicides, all very intriguing, is it murder? Is it mass hysteria, codes in the pop culture? Alienation in society itself being sparked by...?
So there are clues, the police get involved, all very good. Lots of nice dark things to think about, to ponder on. Some very intriguing and wonderfully horribly disturbing things could be going on...
But they don't. Instead, the plot falls apart (perhaps it jumped). Things change from a good mystery to... what, exactly? There are some more gory scenes (including a self-mutilation scene that I couldn't bear to look at) but none of it is nearly as disturbing or intriguing as the first part of the film, because nothing is tied together.
I am not someone who demands a neat ending, but the entire genre of the film switches abruptly in the middle. It's not that the mystery isn't solved, but rather that it's forgotten along the way. I am also not a regular horror film viewer, but merely shocking gore does not a creepy dark film make.
As someone who came up in Japan I would recommend renting it just for the imagery of the opening parts, particularly if you've ever been there on platform 8 or gone to high school. But I'd probably pass on buying it, as someone who prefers a good story.
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on August 8, 2004
I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person. I understood the matrix the first time, I can follow political thrillers, I know how to work my VCR, and I didn't go see "Scoobie Doo." I feel pretty confident that I'm right when I say that this movie was completely unintelligible.

It's not that it wasn't interesting, in fact, it draws you in with a mass suicide right at the beginning, but it goes nowhere from there. There are glimpses of social satire, such as the disgustingly terrible girl band that seems to make people want to kill themselves, and the fact that cell phones and internet are used to recruit people into the "Suicide Club," which is run by a five year old boy with a bad cough. There's also lots of talk of having a "connection to yourself" which is indirectly touted as a deterrent to suicide. I also found it significant that there was never any sincere dialogue between the characters...every one seemed very distant from one another.

Anyway, my point is, there's something there, but it never actually materialized.

Watch it if you want to laugh at incredibly unrealisic gore, or if you love asian girl bands, or if you like quasi-artistic pretentious indie films, or if you're just plain curious. BUT, do not watch it if your looking to see a film that has a coherent plot or an intelligent script.
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on March 4, 2004
"Wow, oh, wow," you think to yourself as 54 Japanese schoolgirls march down the subway stairs. A mass of chaos, they are, some conversing with each other, others talking on the phone, and others yet doing who-knows-what. The group heads down on over to the tracks to wait for the train to come, stepping right behind the yellow line. The sign warning people to stay behind the aformentioned line catches your attention when suddenly, the girls step past the line and join hands in an abrupt show of unity. Swinging their hands, they sing to three. But you can't hear them past 'two." The thundering train blocks out all other sound. That is until the they take the fatal jump, and a cacophonous cocktail of crunching bones, tearing flesh, and horrified screams floods your ears.
...and so Suicide Circle begins.
Sadly, as well as it knows how to do that, it doesn't know much else. Following the appalling (but darkly comedic) introduction is a poorly structured narrative about an epidemic of suicides in Japan and the detective who must uncover the link behind them all.
The film tries to intertwine different stories into the central plot but fails miserably. These include the Bat, a seemingly mysterious woman who knows of the titular club, and a girl whose boyfriend takes part in the morbid trend. The latter actually concludes the story in poorly-tied ending. The main story about the detective isn't even that interesting, focusing only on the age-old dilemma of family or career.
Suicide Circle attempts to throw people off towards the end of the movie, but the twist isn't developed well enough. The ambiguity of the ending could be argued as an artistic decision, but considering that everything else was so ostensible, I would lean towards a bad story.
It tries to be a commentary on today's society's obsession with pop culture, but this aspect seems to have been a complete afterthough. Ironically enough, this film only mindlessly contributes to our modern culture's fascination with the macabre and gory without bringing great insight. It contradicts itself.
The music is alright, but the in-movie pop group Dessert actually churns out some pretty catchy tunes, something that's creepy once you actually realize their significance.
In the end, Suicide Club will probably be remembered for its absurd plot and its gory death scenes, but not much else. Like a speaker who does not prepare his speech, Suicide Club does not bring its point across well, a serious impairment for a movie with such a powerful and important statment to make.
DVD extras contain trailers and stills. Hard subtitles are a negative, and with a price like that, it's robbery. A package without bells-and-whistles. Buy this only if you're really curious or must complete a collection.
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on July 2, 2004
I found this movie, to be hysterical. It wasn't horror at all..there was only two creepy factors. One the skin that was peeled off..and two how they peeled of the skin. That utterly freaked me out. I read the comic which I was inlove with..the movie was a disapointment. The story was hard to follow and stupid. The only reason to watch it is for the really hot chick with glasses calling herself "The Bat", who was..wooah. The high points of the movie is when the kids jump off a building and there is an insane flood of blood, which is funny because its impossible, second when the girls boyfriend falls on her head, almost takes off her ear and then she orders a coffee, and third when the sparklie drag queen starts singing an idiot song. Other then the babe in the glasses the only enjoyment I got from this movie, was when my friends sister started freaking out and kept harassing her father about how scared she was about commiting suicide. Don't buy it, don't rent it, don't waste your money. Read the manga, it is amazing, this movie doesn't even deserve to have the same title. You may think this spoils the plot, the truth is there was no plot. It was a bunch of over done gore, and bad singing. Spend you're money on something worth Battle Royale.
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on January 25, 2004
The first hour or so of this film is truly amazing !!. seriously.
You find yourself baffled and looking for what is causing these suicides. There is a web page that updates everytime someone is killed....these circles representing each death vibrate....are they hipnostising the victim to kill themselves???? everytime this pop song plays on the tv or radio, someone seems to commit suicide...who knows what's going on. Twenty minutes before the end we see the main character unable to accept his loss in his family, commit suicide himself!!! wow!!! then we see an over the top character claiming to be a modern age manson. How is he responsible for the suicides?? is he responsible??? apparently there are undertones here warning us about pop culture and a girl in the film cracks some kind of code, revealing the relationship between the pop group and the deaths.
What follows does not make any sense at all.
Personally, to me, even though other reviewers out there are saying there are many hidden messages here, it feels like the director came to a point in the film where he wasn't sure what to blame the suicides on and threw in an abrupt inexplicable ending.
It is a real shame. What start off as an awsome thrilling film (up there with RING,DARK WATER and AUDITION) becomes a serious let down.
I love david lynch, Polish bros etc etc. I love puzzles!! but here I feel like I have been cheated out of any explanation whatsoever!
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on January 9, 2007
I like Japanese films, and really wanted to like this one. However I must say there are a lot of confusing parts to the plot. Now I have read this is going to be part of a trilogy one day. If that is true I might give it a higher rating. As of now however, there are just a lot of things that don't make sense.
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on February 19, 2004
I don't know if anyone pays attention to these reviews or not, but believe me...this movie stinks. If you want to see a similar movie done much better try "Battle Royale".
Suicide Club's opening scene was great, but it was all straight downhill from there. It just kept getting worse and worse, even ending horribly with the all girl pop group "Desert" singing over the closing credits. This movie is unintentionally funny in several places, but overall it's a loser.
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VINE VOICEon October 24, 2004
_Suicide Club_ certainly held my attention. I found myself both shocked and horrified by the casual manner in which suicide is depicted in this film. Seemingly endless streams of people launch themselves into the unknown; in fact, the opening scene in the underground train station (an actual site of many Japanese suicides) sprays blood all over the scene. What particularly makes this film casual is the always horrible sub-title job. For some reason, while this film seems to have some complexity to it, the dialogue is extremely watered down in the text and I just have to think that the actual script is much more complex and interesting.

_Suicide Club_ is a film that seems to explore the darker side of life, Japanese culture, and death without coming to any sense of a resolution. Many of the characters and sub-plots never tie together and the audience is left with a bunch of dangling fragments, trying to pick up the pieces of this storyline that never seems to go anywhere. As has been my experience with most Japanese films, one just cannot take their eyes off this material because it is fresh and edgy. However, as an American film goer, I just can't appreciate the film's depth and complexity without some semblance of continuity and the ability to understand the language first-hand. Imagine "Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolfe" in translation? It would be awful. Naturally, this is not really a strike against _Suicide Club_ as it is a foreign film, but I think that English speakers will be hard-pressed to extract the full meaning of this film without the complexity and subtlety that the script may have possessed.
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on April 10, 2004
Ok, so a movie about a group of school girls killing themselves sounded intriguing at the very least. I'm sorry, after the plot brakes off into more branches than a Mormon family tree, I found myself thinking what the real reason behind this movie was. So I looked for a common theme, and of course everyone has spoken about the critique of Japanese and capitalist culture; but I am simply not happy with that. Look, this move is just plain bad. The theme is something like this: kill yourself, become an individual . . . oh no. . . . just kidding (insert Japanese school girl laugh) living is the best and makes you an individual. All and all, it's more incoherent than Descartes' account of clear and distinct perception. I'm sorry, but I just like it when my movies make sense all the way though, rather than tricking the populous to think something more Existential is going on.
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