31 01 2016


I had expected Tag, the latest movie by cult Japanese B-grade director Sono Sion, to be a schlocky gore fest. The bloodplattered schoolgirl on the poster was a dead giveaway. As it turns out though, the film is a schlocky gore fest in which schoolgirls are machine-gunned and dismembered in service of a strikingly feminist message, delivered thought-provokingly and with great panache. The film has a dream-like surreal atmosphere, in which settings and faces jarring shift and change, with moments of great humour and blood splattering satisfaction. In other words, it turned out to be much better than I expected.

The story involves ( SPOILER ALERT!) a dreamy schoolgirl Mitsuko (played by mixed Austrian-Japanese model Reina Triendl) who finds herself plunged into a nightmarish world in which she is pursued senselessly by nameless assailants in a series of seemingly unconnected scenes.

It was only halfway through the film that I noticed something that had been nagging at me; there were no men. Even in the crowd scenes and on the streets, the passers-by were all female. It was a world of women.

Then suddenly it changes again to an all-male world, literally titled “the universe of men.”

When it becomes clear that it is from this world that the forces hunting Mitsuko are being controlled, we begin to understand the poignancy of the message delivered by Mitsuko’s ally, a lesbian sidekick: fight back. Kill them all!

The film is urging Japanese women to fight back against the roles they are forced into by “the world of men” with the support of their fellow women – pretty radical stuff.

I loved it.