Netflix Horror Spotlight brings you Wicked Horror’s top picks for what to watch on Netflix, whether it’s the latest indie darling, a classic masterpiece or a silly slasher that deserves a bit more attention. In this edition, Aki Kaza makes a case for why you must check out Tag.
Within the first three minutes of this film, a powerful wind slices an entire bus full of Japanese schoolgirls in half. Mitsuko (Reina Triendl) is the sole survivor. She was down on the floor when the murderous breeze blew past. She was picking up a pen her classmate had knocked to the ground. When she straightens up and finally sees her massacred classmates, she’s wearing the same expression that I wore throughout most of this film.
This film is nothing less than you would expect from director and writer Sion Sono. Tag (2015) is an outrageous and bloody disgusting action horror that will have you asking, “What the hell is going on?!” all the way up to its surprisingly poignant climax.
The acting alternates between down-to-earth and over-the-top. The tragic deaths send Mitsuko into a state of shock, and her mellow demeanor stands in stark contrast to the giddy outbursts of her friends. Even the weather doesn’t make any sense: In one confusing frame, Mitsuko runs down a street of lush green leaves on her left and snow-covered branches to her right. Mitsuko’s friends die violently, only to reappear moments later acting as if nothing had happened. The way they talk to Mitsuko seems like they’re all in on a secret she has yet to discover. We, as the audience, are enveloped in Mitsuko’s confusion. We ask ourselves the same questions she does, and we only learn what’s truly going on when Mitsuko finally finds out herself.
Netflix touts the film as “very violent,” which is a gross understatement in my personal opinion. The body count is too high to even bother keeping track of. Powerful winds and crazed teachers obliterate entire hordes of teenage girls in seconds. The deaths get crazier and more disgusting the longer you watch, but rest assured, there is a reason for the violence. And it’s one you won’t see coming.
I came to this movie for the crazy intro, stayed for the confusing middle, and couldn’t have been more satisfied by the ending. It’s one that touches on social issues that plague Japan, including video game obsession and the objectification of women. Yes, there is a hint of feminism to this film, but you won’t notice it until it punches you in the gut during the final scenes.
For viewers unfamiliar with Japanese cinema, the film may seem to lag at a few points, and the acting may seem unrealistic at times. Still, the splatterpunk scenes are hilarious to watch, and the film’s overall message is one that I think viewers of all audiences can come to appreciate.
Sion Sono has directed several of my favorite Japanese horror films, and Tag is a wonderful addition to that list. It’s a wildly confusing, insanely bloody ride, and highly recommended from this J-horror connoisseur.