This was definitely the most thought provoking movie I’ve seen in a long time and a very difficult one to interpret for a variety of different reasons. The main reason being that you absolutely have to view this entire film through a Japanese cultural perspective. The second reason, which I’ll get into later, is a somewhat disjointed plot structure and overall narrative.
Growing up in Japan as a child is incredibly different form growing up as a child in the US or anywhere else for that matter. They really value children as the future rather than making an effort to nurture their innocence during adolescence. It sounds beautiful but I believe this can also place unnecessary pressures on them. The unnecessary pressures we’d think of right away are performance related aspects to life; specifically in the academic community. The interesting thing that Suicide Club made me think of was the pressure to assimilate, to be a part of these large groups of students and ultimately, an equal-working part of society as a whole.
As a young, impressionable person, how much do you absorb and connect to before getting to know yourself? On that note, at what age do you possibly leave that real connection to yourself behind? When I say “connection to oneself” I’m referring to the clear existential question that is asked 100 times during this film. The connection to oneself is all your original thoughts, desires and aspirations; the things you love vs the things you were taught to love.
This question, in my interpretation of the movie, is poised more towards the connection between your soul and body and ultimately a facet of the Shinto/Buddhism religion in Japan. If I were to grasp for strings I’d say the voices on the phones asking these people this question, being presented as children, were ultimately supposed to represent themselves. As most people know, both these religions believe in some form of reincarnation which is clearly connected to these questions that are repeated. The reaffirmation of, yes, if you die the connection between your loved ones remains but will the connection to yourself survive?
It’s important to note too that Japan doesn’t condemn suicide and in fact, they’re very tolerant of it. The duality between that notion and the death scenes in this movie lies in the motivation of the suicide. While suicide as an answer to a moral dilemma might be tolerated, this movie was filmed at a time where suicide in Japan was almost an epidemic. People are pushed to work insanely long hours and performance standards are unrealistic oftentimes, which is what potentially leads to high numbers of suicides.
I believe this film was biting at that notion of feeling like you’re not fitting into that mold (or ‘puzzle’ from the Dessert song). This of course was taken to horrific measures through mass suicides as a result of a cult-like message. As much as the brainwash effect seemed prominent, you still had scenes like the male student on the roof who didn’t jump, seemingly an instance of self-realization.
The computer program/cult plot, j-pop and murder sequences are the moments I think this film strays from a lot of fans. the narrative skips around a bit and it can ultimately become overbearingly confusing. Fortunately, I was able to derive my own interpretations of these instances that seemed plausible enough to make them relevant and coherent to the main plot. That’s really as simply as I can put it. Much like David Lynch’s work, despite any amount of praise, this material will work for you or it wont.
As you can see, I found this movie incredibly thought provoking, despite its raw appearance and blood soaked visuals. I’m not even sure I wanted to get into a movie this meaty, at least this late at night but fuck it, here we are. It’s a depressing, surprisingly energetic, existential crisis that every seasoned horror fan should force themselves to endure.