Suicide Club (2018)
Let’s say you’re in such a dark place that you’ve become agoraphobic and on the verge of suicide. Your only contact with the outside world is through forums for other suicidal individuals who berate you when you are not able to go through with killing yourself. Then one of these individuals suggests a place on the dark web called the Suicide Club that will guarantee your successful end but can also take care of people you don’t like and make their deaths look like suicides. However, you begin chatting with someone online who potentially reinvigorates your taste for living. Oh! And you’re dealing with a potential serial killer in your apartment complex. That’s a lot of ifs. We are Bloodhound Pix and this is Maximilian von Vier’s Suicide Club (2018).
Klariza Clayton (Skins and Lovesick) stars as Liz, a reclusive woman who has been locked in her flat for three years. Liz spends most of her time spying on her neighbors from her “tower,” as it’s phrased, or online on dating sites or forums for people planning on committing suicide. After another unsuccessful attempt to end her life, another member on the forum suggests looking up the Suicide Club, an urban legend whispered among younger people. When Liz finds the club online and passes their tests, she is given the command of “kill or be killed.” At first skeptical Liz gives the name of a drugged-out neighbor who annoys her and is shocked to find that that night, men break into his apartment and drug him to make it appear like an overdose. Soon, Liz realizes she must continue nominating others for the club or they will “choose for her,” all while she has found a new passion for life with Josh (Adam Newington), a new neighbor who is the ying to Liz’s yang.
C. First of all, I give credit to Klariza Clayton. Most of the movie she’s alone in her flat, which forces Clayton to carry the movie by herself. She gives many nuances to strengthen the performance and make her interesting to watch. With no fault to Clayton, the major issue with the character of Liz is the dialogue. Since a majority of the script has Liz reading or writing messages online, you’ll notice (and then it can’t be unnoticed) that she reads everything out loud, then she’ll speak to herself to make sure we (the audience) know what’s going on. Vier’s approach definitely “tell us” rather than “show us.”
The issue with a movie set in one location with primarily one actor is if it drags at all, you really feel it. I found myself at fifteen minutes checking my watch because it felt like an hour had passed.
The general premise is interesting with connections to 2001’s Suicide Club (or Suicide Circle) and Rear Window. However, the two movies I listed are drastically different from each other in terms of content, style, pacing, and tone. This makes the movie at times feel like two films in one; a recluse finding love while uncovering a potential serial killer in the apartment complex, and a cyber thriller about an online club where people upload suicide videos. I’m sure there’s a way to blend the two but for me when one of the plots starts to get interesting it then shifts to the other, leaving behind characters, plot devices, and even themes. There’s a whole sequence with a cop that threatens to come back but then disappears, same with the Suicide Club, which is vacant for large chunks of the movie while this romantic relationship is evolving.
I could be wrong but to me the movie felt like something that had been condensed to meet budgetary needs and Vier didn’t want to “kill his darlings” or at least stage their suicides.
J. I guess for what basically amounts to a “single location” film, it’s neither the best or worst example of the exercise. With such a simple premise, it does get confusing and boring pretty quick. The opening shows Liz attempting suicide only to stop and get berated online by a bunch of mad bros (it’s the internet). Five minutes later she doesn’t wanna kill herself anymore. Another five minutes later, she’s in love. And she’s a stalker. And she’s agoraphobic. And what is with those fucking intertitles with the, “+ 7 HOURS.” “+ 12 HOURS,” “+ 4 HOURS???” They don’t count down or up so what the fuck does it mean? Is it to show how many hours have passed since the last scene? Who fucking cares? If so, why is that important? I have no answer other than it adds to the confusion. I don’t wanna pile all bad on this movie so lemme say that the actress isn’t terrible and does what she can to salvage it. She’s in practically every goddamn frame of the thing so she better be somewhat interesting to watch. The videos of supposed suicides that we see are somewhat disturbing a la SINISTER but nowhere near as effective or interesting. Speaking of superior films, I found it hilarious that while watching the suicide videos and thinking that they’re faked or staged, she takes a dig at THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT which I didn’t understand at all considering it’s a far superior film and it’s so fucking old, that a lot of the audience for this film, might not even know what the hell she’s talking about. I have to think the latter is what the director is hoping for.
K. To echo Craig, I give credit to the leads, Klariza Clayton and Adam Newington, for doing the best they could with very thin material. The script by von Vier (not to be confused with Von Trier) lacks narrative drive, it begins with a decent enough set up, but then drags as the various plots develop episodically. In between each episode the film fades to black and we see an arbitrary title card informing us that “+2 Hours” or “+16 Hours” or “+24 Hours” have elapsed between scenes, not only is this unnecessary as a simple fade to black would suffice in terms of implying a passage of time, but it seems to suggest a ‘ticking clock’, as if there’s some race against time, however that is not the case.
Technically speaking, the film is competently made. The production design is spare given the use of one primary location. The lighting is solid, making use of giallo-style reds and blues, though they do little to support the otherwise flimsy story. However, the Rear Window type sequences, when Liz is spying on her neighbors and witnessing murders, etc. are filmed in such a flat way as to render the scenes lifeless and unengaging. Overall, I found Suicide Club to be a tedious watch, the characters weren’t compelling and the thin story was stretched out to its breaking point.
C. Now with time to think, sadly my thoughts didn’t change on the 1st response and seeing my cohorts views suggests the major issues I had weren’t purely based on my own opinion. If anything, I feel we all can agree this is a great example of Clayton’s acting ability. Suicide Club feels like a movie with too many ideas that the filmmaker couldn’t figure where he wanted to go.
J. And I remain confused as all hell. I feel like the story needed more focus than it had. As mentioned above, Liz changes her mind about things so quickly that it doesn’t ever give you time to get into her headspace because she behaves like someone with the most severe case of ADHD in recorded history. A more apt title would have been MURDER CLUB but hell, CONFUSION CLUB works even better. Not all bad by any means but direction and aim were too aloof too often.
K. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach Kyle for further comment on the film...he was later discovered in his home dangling from a noose, wrists slit, bag over his head, empty pill bottle on the floor, evidently the film had a deep influence on him after all.
Bloodhound’s average score: 1 out of 5
In order to give what we believe to be a more unbiased constructive criticism of the piece, the members of Bloodhound Pix are tackling each review as a panel of three. None of the members know the others’ thoughts on the content until after they submit their initial response.