AFF: TAG [2015]

Sadly the Adelaide Film Festival is now over, but many more thoughts are to come on the incredibly unconventional films I was lucky enough to see. saw. It is a biennial event, but there is an encore of the Australian film ‘Highly Strung’, which sold out two times and is screening soon, check out the details here.

Tag Poster-thumb-300xauto-56635

Directed by Shion Sono, Written by Yûsuke Yamada (based on the original story by), Shion Sono

Reina Triendl, Mariko Shinoda, Erina Mano, Mao Asô

Horror-comedy seems to be the new trend at the moment, and here is Japan’s entry. Not much can be said about this one really, it is an absolutely bat-shit crazy, surreal ride. It is a bit like Battle Royale, one of my favourite Japanese movies, but on acid. There isn’t really a horror element now that I think about it, though the film does start that way. Pure insanity is a more accurate way to describe this film in a succinct way. “Life is surreal, don’t let it get to you, don’t let it consume you“, one character says short into the film. Shion Sino seems like an incredibly prolific filmmaker: 45 films to his name, this film being one of six made this year. What is even more impressive that this film isn’t bad at all, and certainly doesn’t look like low-budget, horribly acted schlock.

Mitsuoka is a normal school-girl. She likes to write poems, which inadvertently saves her. Shortly into the film we see one of the best multi-kill scenes in the history of cinema; Misuoka is the only survivor. It seems that the wind has the ability to slice and dice, including entire buses of school children. This sudden terror of the wind is brilliantly realised with inventive camerawork as we become the wind, following Mitsuoka as she runs for her life to get away. The camera continues to fly forward and follow Mitsuoka, we are still following the wind but we never know if it will strike or if it won’t. All we know is that when it is done people will be in pieces with blood spurting from what is left.

TAG 2015 movie

As she continues to run away from the wind, she inexplicably runs into schoolmates who all seem to know her. They joke about her having amnesia as she struggles to remember these friendships. By now it is not clear at all what is happening, especially when a teacher pulls out a mini-gun because Mitsuoka and her friends skip class. I’m just tagging (heh) along for the ride at this point, the story is becoming more and more like a Rubix Cube.


More running ensures, a recurring motif in the film, when suddenly she bumps into another person who seems to know her. Is she ready for the big day her friend wants to know. Mitsuoka has no idea what is happening, until she looks in the mirror: she is now Keiko and is basically forced into a gown by her new friends. What on Earth is going on? Don’t ask me, but what I will say is this film is quintessentially Japanese. There is no doubting their particular brand of insanity and it is on full display here and the events become increasingly bizarre, making even less sense; much like many Japanese television commercials. I’m still hanging on for dear life at this point, nothing is making sense at all yet I am loving every second.

Another unexpected theme of this movie is feminism; there isn’t a single important male character to be found here. Plus she is always running forward, perhaps a metaphor for the increasing rights that women are receiving, though we are still not close to where we should be.

This film unexpectedly made my night. It is very Japanese, so you Japanophiles or whatever you are called will love this bucket of blood and madness. Thefive beer(1) gore element isn’t huge but it certainly is there. However much like Deathgasm the gore here is funny, the cinema I was in was filled with laughter despite a small attendance. If you are looking for some serious cinema, despite the feminist undertones this is not the movie to see, I can’t recommend it to folk looking for something like that. However, if you want some senseless fun, see this if you can. It is filled with laughs, violence and truly some surreal film-making.

Five beers out of a six-pack