The first impression of Sion Sono’s Tag is that there is too much innocence and something really evil is coming down the road. The fact that literally is about to come true will probably throw off the audience for a loop because we’re just a few minutes into the film. There’s little to nothing to prepare you for the storyline, which seems to jump from one setting to the next. The transition will make you tilt your head while we’re abandoning one premise and jumping into a completely different one.
Mitsuko (Reina Triendl) plays the quiet, introvert schoolgirl who writes poems and somehow managed to dodge a massive bloodshed caused a wind so strong that it’s able to cut people in half. The complete absence of a visual representation of what pursues her makes you unable to guess what happens next. She walks away from a unexplainable mass killing into another school and learns… She’s always gone there? The fact that we learn this at the same time makes us question Mitsuko’s sanity just as she questions it herself.
Tag does have an outcome to explain most of its events, leaving it quite open to you to decide what the motive and the real conclusion was. There’s a wild element of cruelty and violence towards its characters that seems to critique society – specially male society when the reveal happens. The movie almost fetishizes the character of the Japanese girl in distress, until you realize that we’ve been watching all this storylines from the point of view of characters that actually do that. If that sounds meta and confusing, you’re halfway there to understand what the movie is telling you.
Recommended only for horror fans that don’t mind a little inception and social commentary. The movie is very gratuitous on the violence and not scared to kill characters that you care about. At the time of writing this, Tag was revealed as the winner of the Cheval Noir award for Best Film. As twisted and scary and positively weird as it is, I’d say it certainly deserves the accolade.
That will do for now.
(Sources: Fantasia International Film Festival)