31 Days of Hallowe’en 2020, Day 6: Tag (Real Onigokko) (リアル鬼ごっこ) [2015]

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Tag, or Real Onigokko as it’s known in its homeland, is one of those movies that follow a trend common in Japanese visual storytelling but maybe weird or confusing to us: it starts out strong – gets your attention with some crazy shit – then it wanders off towards a gentler narrative tone or scenes with no tangible, overt meaning.

But that’s why I liked this movie.

The opening bus scene is fairly infamous (if things seem cute and rosy, you know something gargantuanly awful is about to happen). To say more would be spoiling it, so let’s just go with an ‘accident’, of which schoolgirl Mitsuko (Reina Trendl) is the only survivor. Proceedings get stranger from there, and we’re chucked right into the middle of it, with scene after subsequent scene of similar madcap grotesquery, until the inevitable exposition/explanation scene (which is still wonderfully weird in its own right).

Directed by Sion Sono, who was also responsible for the pretty fucking awesome Amazon series Tokyo Vampire Hotel, this was adapted from the novel Riaru Onigokko by Yusuke Yamada. Sono seems to have a thing for snapping at the heels of patriarchal bullshit, which is admirable but sadly rare for a male director these days, and Tag has big splatters of this underscored by touches of pitch-black humour. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, but this brutal, bizarre fairy tale is a movie that can hold up to multiple viewings.

Score: 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 

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