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Monsters Club ("Monsutazu Kurabu")

Quebec Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2011
  • 72 mins
  • HD
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival 2011
Official Selection, Nippon Connection 2012
Official Selection, New York Asian Film Festival 2012

“Engaging and surprisingly humanistic... Lyrical and beautiful in its own way” — James Mudge, BEYOND HOLLYWOOD

In a secluded cabin somewhere in the mountains of Japan, Ryoichi lives a self-sufficient existence. He spends most of his day carefully crafting improvised explosive devices, which he systematically mails to Japan’s most influential CEOs and political figures. But in his eyes, he is neither a murderer nor a terrorist. He is a messenger for the Monsters Club – a loosely-defined organization of which he is the sole member and through which he communicates his exasperation with modern society to the world, informing our rulers of its inherent failings. Yet none of that seems to matters much when his peaceful day to day is about to be interrupted by uncanny apparitions. Projections of his mind, signs of neurosis or actual demons, soon the Monsters Club finds itself at its most crowded, Ryoichi having to deal with his actions but also with the members – dead and alive – of a family he’s been expertly alienating for multiple years.

Thus begins the latest from Toshiaki Toyoda (9 SOULS, BLUE SPRING), a superb new film in which the darker impulses of the human soul have many masks behind which to hide. Conceived following Toyoda’s lecture of “Industrial Society and Its Future”, better known as the “Unabomber Manifesto” as written by mathematician, neo-Luddite and murderer Ted Kaczynski, MONSTERS CLUB, is far removed from the terrorism thriller. Shot against the magnificent, snowy scenery of Japan’s forests and mountains, it is rather a grippingly meditative portrait in which a character’s soul is splattered (at times literally) for us to explore in all its complexity. Made to address and speculate on the complicated mental state of perpetrators of extreme actions such as Kaczynski (who Toyoda became fascinated with), you’ll be hard-pressed to find more gripping character study this year. Japanese actor Eita embodies the cold-blooded, calculated and assured Ryoichi beautifully, letting him slip gradually into self-doubt and mental collapse as his operation progresses and the boundaries of the monstrous become muddier and muddier. Unique creatures start manifesting themselves, followed by various relatives, always with deep roots to his personal history and unresolved familial trauma. Ultimately, MONSTERS CLUB is a beautifully serene and unsettling exploration of the drive for personal spirituality in an era of capitalism and corporate control, soullessness and alienation. In other words, the Monsters Club is about to become much more crowded and we recommend you join its ranks.

— Ariel Esteban Cayer