Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Tag, or: Pens Before Men(s)

This month on the Collab promises to be full of May…hem?  Eh eh?  Dad jokes aside, we will be fully embracing  films that, in the grand tradition of the blog, are more than a little strange, surreal, nonsensical, or odd.  As always,  there’s plenty of room for us to do whatever the fucking fuck we feel like unless, like the characters in this week’s film, destiny is playing a much stronger hand than we realize.

The Film:

Tag (2015)

The Premise:

A teen girl in Japan finds herself surrounded by horrifically gory, surreal murders as she experiences several dreams, realities, and/or versions of herself.

The Ramble:

On their merry way for a weekend trip, an all-girls school in Japan is in high spirits.  Singing, pillow fighting, and engaging in light-hearted mischief, things seem to be off to a great start.

The trip takes a very dark turn, however, when an accident kills all but one of the girls–rather gorily shearing almost all of them in half.  Mitsuko, the only survivor, was saved as she had knelt down to retrieve a pen knocked from her hands by a classmate.

a teenage girl sitting in the central aisle of a schoolbus holds a pen, looking around at the bodies of her classmates, suddenly missing the upper half of their bodies
See what you get for messing with my pens, bitches.

Though she has survived the accident, Mitsuko isn’t in the clear yet as the whole ordeal seems to have been caused by…a murder wind?  I guess if Evil Dead can do it, why not this film?  Mitsuko does eventually escape to the woods, but not before the wind catches up with some unlucky joggers and bicyclists.  It just goes to show that absolutely no one can stand a bicyclist.

Stumbling across what seems to be another massacre at a river, Mitsuko shakily washes off the blood spatters and changes clothes.  She then comes across another school, where the students know her and believe she has a severe case of amnesia.  Luckily, her bff Aki explains who everyone is in their friend group and shows her where her classes are.

four teenage girls in school uniform look nervously at a pond in the woods
Scenes from a horror film or a Behind the Music episode about a teen girl group?

Since Mitsuko is still terrified of the wind and incredibly confused, Aki and the 2 other girls in the friend group cut class to hang out by the river.  When they hear about Mitsuko’s earlier “dream,” the girls jokingly dismiss it–except for Sur, the vaguely punk rebel of the group, of course.  Sur insists it’s possible that the dream really happened and Mitsuko is experiencing one of many alternate realities.  It gets super philosophical here, but I feel the big takeaway is that fate can only be tricked with something dramatically and unexpectedly out of character.

When the girls return to school, terror strikes again when the enraged teachers suddenly open fire on the students, sending Mitsuko running for her life again.  She finds a police station and realizes she has transformed into Keiko, a 25-year-old woman on the way to her wedding.  Help arrives in the form of Aki, who seems to be completely off her rocker when she starts killing all bridesmaids in sight.  It’s clear Keiko and Aki are going to have to fight their way out of this one.

a group of women laugh around a horrified woman in a wedding dress who is facing her groom, a man with a boar's head
We’ve all been to one of those weddings…

Having escaped the wedding, Mitsuko takes on another form, Izumi.  She finds herself in the middle of a race, running to the finish line yet seemingly trapped in another scenario that ends with everyone around her dead.

Is there no escape for Mitsuko from this horror show?  And who is she, anyway–Mitsuko, Keiko, or Izumi?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I don’t know what a fair rating for this one is as I’m still puzzling over it and (spoiler/not really a spoiler) I would’ve really liked a bit more clarity in the end.  But honestly, despite a lack of understanding, I had a lot of fun watching this.  It does sometimes beat us over the head with its message about destiny, control, and the surrealism of reality.  What saved this one for me was a willingness to counteract a serious message with fun B horror tropes and an improbable amount of gore.

The film is grounded by Mitsuko and Aki’s bond and the genuine affection between them as besties.  There is a hint of romance between the 2 girls, but the film leaves this open to interpretation for the aromantic among us.

In the end, the message of the film is surprisingly feminist as the nature of Mitsuko’s existence is revealed.  Big shocker–men are just the absolute worst.

Did Christa get on board with this girl gang or would she kick it back to another reality?  Read her review here to find out!