Original title: Densen uta
Director: Masato Harada
Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Yûko Ôshima, Sayaka Akimoto, Hiroshi Abe
Suicide Song is based on the (mostly factual) urban myth of the 1933 Hungarian song 'Gloomy Sunday'. Reportedly written for an ex-girlfriend, the musician killed himself shortly after its release. Legend has it that the song triggered a rash of suicides and was thereafter banned across the world.
Writer Yasushi Akimoto (One Missed Call) has taken the myth as a starting point and moved us into modern-day Tokyo, where a group of perky schoolgirls are being infected by the plague song and shortly thereafter offing themselves.
Lukily for those still alive, reporter Riku (Ryuhei Matsuda, Nightmare Detective) has been assigned to cover the story, and he knows just the person to help keep them alive.
You might be thinking at this point ... typicale Jap horror ... and as far as the basic storyline goes you'd probably be right. But the film is anything but typical. In fact its more than a little offbeat, and very funny at times in an absurdist Japanese style that you will already know if you appreciate or not.
It often looks great, and the cinematography is inspired, but its the attention to detail that really impressed me. There is rarely a scene that is played in the usual way, with the actors adding quirky nuances that bring an amusing character to each scene, especially the schoolgirls.
Ryuhei Matsuda is nihilism personified - he slouches around the film not really giving a fuck about anything, and is great as usual. The schoolgirls are played by members of the real life schoolgirl pop/theatre group, AKB48 - and are suitably cute.
Suicide Song is an eclectic beast and not easily described ... but most easily fits into the horror comedy genre. Or if you want something more specific, "Japanese Schoolgirls in Peril from Infectious Pop Song".
Rating: 6.5/10 - well made, weird, funny... but let down by a hokey ending. Still a very enjoyable film for fans of J-Cinema.