Suicide Club (2001)
Sion Sono is my favorite director. I have not covered his movies yet because I don’t feel like I will do a good job. Even though I have made writing my living, I don’t feel like I will ever use the right words when speaking of this film, or any of his others. That said, I guess I have to try.
54 school girls join hands and jump in front of an on-coming train. From that point, more and more suicides occur throughout Tokyo and are connected to a website that shows each death as a colored circle. Rolls of rectangular skin pieces sewn together are dropped off at various suicide scenes, each piece thought to be from a suicide victim. A cult is thought to be behind the rash of deaths. One girl is almost killed by a friend as he plummets to his death from a building. She follows clues from a music icon group called Dessart and is kidnapped by another group claiming responsibility for the Suicide Club. Eventually she meets with a group of small children who ask her if she is one with herself. Satisfied with her answer, they lead her away. A piece of her skin is found in another roll, and as the police try to stop her from jumping in front of a train, she simply pulls away from them, boards the train, and leaves.
Each Sono film takes this idea and places it inside a little box, then surrounds the idea with the most absurd and graphic content imaginable. He takes the farthest extremes to explain the smallest of ideas. This type of storytelling will resonate with some and alienate others. If you view this film as a horror movie and nothing more, then there will be intense disappointment in your future. If you catch a glimpse below the surface and start peeling back layers, I believe you are in for a treat that you won’t forget.
I know, I really got preachy on this one, but everyone has that thing they are passionate about, right? Everyone has a theme that really gets them. Sono’s movies do it for me. Please sign up for the newsletter if you liked what you read, and check out our Facebook group here. We love talking all things horror.
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The Descent (2005)
Neil Marshall, Dog Soldiers, Doomsday
I believe that The Descent is the finest horror film in the last 20 years.
That is a line I say fairly often, though my moods shift. Still, it is definitely up there towards the top. Neil Marshall is a fantastic director who has made woefully few movies. Though he has made some great episodes of Game of Thrones, Hannibal, and Westworld.
What makes this movie so frightening is the juxtaposition of the killer creatures with the very real fear that most of us have of going cave diving. The claustrophobia of it is palpable. Most of us would never think to put ourselves in the situations that these women are willfully trying out for fun. On top of that, the subtle drama that plays out between the characters truly made me feel for them. It is rare that a horror movie can make be genuinely care about anyone’s personal life, but this movie pulls it off.
The American version of the film has an ending that is dreadful. In the end, the main character gets out of the cave and drives off, alive and well. In the actual ending, that turns out to be a hallucination, and she is really still in the cave with no hope of escape. America decided that the movie needed a happy ending because America is stupid. Yeah, I said it. Call up Donald Trump and report me, I’m sure he’ll take time out of his busy golf schedule to tell me why happy endings are the bread and butter of America.
Why did I just get political? Ignore that shit.
Anyway, from the first crazy unexpected death to the bloody end, The Descent is a textbook example of how horror should be. This film, along with some others, should be given credit for the current horror renaissance. This was an early example of what these movies would become. A change from the 80’s and 90’s into something different, more mature, and far more frightening for the modern world.
Hounds of Love (2016)
This was a random pick that turned out to be far better than anticipated. I probably picked it because there is a guy groping a girl on the cover and I was hoping to see some boobs. Oh hush, don’t judge, everyone likes looking at breasts. I can’t even remember if there were boobs in this movie, maybe, but after just a bit, it no longer mattered. This movie rocks.
Evelyn and John handcuff her to a bed and then fuck in front of her. Later, they do unspeakable things to the young girl, but thankfully, all of this is off camera. This is a movie that chooses to leave nearly everything to the imagination, and it works wonders here. I was so creeped out by them, and the feeling was able to linger because I never actually saw what happened. I still don’t. I still wonder, “How bad was it?”
Editor's Note: There is a moment when a dog is killed. It happens off screen, but still has sound and is revolting as hell.
The couple are having serious marriage issues and Vicki is able to exploit that to her advantage. She turns the two against each other which eventually leads to an opportunity to escape. Evelyn ends up turning on John so much that they fight and she kills him. There is a truly gorgeous moment in the end when Vicki is running away and sees Evelyn in front of her. They lock eyes, and Vicki simply walks by. Evelyn has no more left in her. No fight; no humanity.
I was reminded of the The Girl Next Door (based on the book by the amazing Jack Ketchum) more than once, but that film took a different approach. Where it shocked you into submission, Hounds of Love subtly disturbs, leaving questions that burn deep in my chest. This is one that I can highly recommend but I myself will probably never see it again. It left the impression, and could never do it a second time.
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