Set for release on the 20th November courtesy of Eureka Entertainment, ‘TAG’, Sion Sono’s gore filled visual extravaganza comes at you like a lucid dream on drugs.
Sporting, what is essentially five or so 15minute violent and surreal scenarios, the film assaults you on several levels featuring 85 minutes of condensed and gratuitous girl on girl violence, some outrageous CGI-splatter and enough compromising situations to make you feel like you have been abused!
Beneath it all, there is a somewhat more poignant message… apparently!
The synopsis: Miksuko (Reina Triendl) is the sole survivor of a bizarre paranormal incident what kills all of her classmates. Running for her life, Mitsuko seemingly slips into an alternate reality, but death and chaos seems to follow her everywhere. As Mitsuko finds herself in increasingly surreal and violent situations, the true horror behind her nightmare is revealed.
As the synopsis hints the film acts almost as a montage of gore filled scenarios, and what a splendour they are to behold to. In the opening scene we see around 30 of young school girls literally torn in half as a killer wind tears through 2 school busses and an unfortunate group of cyclists. Having escaped that, poor Miksuko finds her friends in a separate peril, a visceral and war movie inspired high school shoot out. And so on and so on. The scenarios do indeed continue in this vein, and whilst perhaps not quite as bombastic as the two I have just mentioned, the film continues to up the ante in terms of the many bizarre and cruel situations the heroine must endure.
The CGI gore might be a little jarring to some horror fans as it is obvious, and not in any way realistic, but in the same vein it is not as ‘manga’ inspired as say ‘Tokyo Gore Police’ or ‘Machine Girl’. That said, had this movies gore been any more realistic you may have to be medically committed after watching the film. There are some reused effects, and some which are clearly post-production plugins, but all in all I cannot see anyone who is a fan of Asian splatter in general not being impressed at both the frequency and scale of the set pieces found in this film. It is most not family friendly viewing (nor indeed wife or girlfriend, despite the pro-feminist undertones stated in the films marketing)!
The acting is really great, and despite the absolutely absurd plot (which is only really explained right at the very end) the characters have you routing for them, especially the lead character Mitsuko. Despite how gratuitous the violence is, and no matter how many scantily clad wrestling matches and up skirt panty shots we are shown, there is a grounding about her character which allows you to pity her and share her sentiments that enough is enough! There is only so much a girl can take – admittedly most of us would have broken somewhat sooner.
The only minor gripe I have of the film is, that in contrast to the spectacle of seeing people dismembered, blown to pieces, Japanese school teachers totting miniguns, bone shattering fight scenes and a rather violent wedding scenario the lengthier exposition and dialog scenes are somewhat tedious to watch in parts, especially as you won’t have much of a clue as to what is going on anyhow (well we didn’t anyhow).
Overall, despite this very minor of niggles, ‘TAG’ is an easy recommendation to anyone into Asian splatter, further pushing the boundaries of what will fly in terms of stylised gore and violence. It’s bizarre for sure, but a winner.