Toronto After Dark Review: Sion Sono’s TAG


SHOCK reviews prolific filmmaker Sion Sono’s latest gory mind-bender, TAG

Editor’s note: The Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs from October 15th to 23rd and SHOCK is pleased to be able to provide coverage. Keep checking back for more features and reviews as the fest progresses.

TAG is not for the faint of heart nor is it light on brainwaves; it’s a deep thinker filled with gruesome deaths and beautiful imagery accompanied by a stunning score.

It’s a tough film to summarize without giving too much away or being so vague that it’s utterly confusing. Here goes…

I’d like to start by addressing the first ten minutes of the film.


Sorry. Let’s continue…

Mitsuko is the lone survivor of a mass murder during a school field trip. The rest of her classmates were exterminated when “the wind” cut them all in half, along with the buses they were in. Covered in the blood of her peers, Mitsuko runs back from the countryside now riddled with body parts to her school where everything appears normal. She is the lone exception.

After confiding in her best friend Aki about the massacre she has just witnessed, they come to the conclusion that this was not reality but a dream. This revelation is of great relief to Mitsuko who then grabs her two other friends Yuki and Sur (short for Surreal) and they decide to cut class and run to the woods. In the woods, the girls alternate between light-hearted feather pillow fights and conversations about alternate realities and changing fate, conversations Sur seems to lead most of the time.

Confused yet? Dream meets reality again as we try to decide whether Mitsuko is dreaming when she witnesses her teacher annihilate her entire class and then shoot off body parts bit by bit in a fantastic display of blood? What is the difference between a dream and an alternate reality?…ask yourself these questions as the story plays out.

As the students make a mass exodus from the school the teachers gun them down and the school ground becomes a battlefield. Mitsuko takes shelter at a cop-shop where the policewoman identifies her as Keiko. Confused, Mitsuko looks in a mirror and sees a different reflection. Is this Keiko or Mitsuko? Is this reality?

From here the story gets deeper and deeper into the ideas and platforms of alternate realities and what alters them, how to change them back, and fate itself. The alternate realities play out like a video game where each level is more challenging and bring you to the “boss” at the end that you must defeat and …well…it’s not that far off from the truth.

Heavy, heady stuff for a gory horror film, I know. The bit that ties the thing together (there are many alternate realities), is prolific director Sion Sono’s affinity towards using feathers as a device to bind the stories of these alternate realities into a tight fix. On paper that may sound cheesy but it is done quite beautifully.

I mentioned earlier that the score was particularly beautiful and that complements the stunning cinematography perfectly. It’s the kind of film that I would even enjoy watching without subtitles just for the visuals and sound. It’s a movie that must be seen on a big screen.

TAG will screen as part of the 10th annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival on Thursday, October 22nd, 7:00pm with Sono’s THE CHAMP following at 9:30pm. Go HERE for tickets and more info.


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