Originally submitted as an entry for the ABCs of Death contest, Tag impresses by being uncomfortable and tense without the need for the cheap jump scare or overabundance of gore (though there is a horror healthy dosing of blood). Miki (Eri Akita) is being harassed and tortured by her deceased little sister Aki (Mariko Miyamitsu), seemingly in revenge for the unfortunate event that resulted in Aki’s death. Aki’s form of torture, while predominantly mental and consistently abrasive, also sometimes wanders into the physically violent, such as when Aki remarks “tag” as she uses a razor blade to cut at the back of Miki’s feet as she descends the stairs. A tale of revenge, redemption and reconciliation, Tag sets up quite a bit in its 5 minutes, and delivers on all counts.
Like the best supernatural tales, one is left with a certain level of the ambiguity. Does the tormenting Aki actually exist as an external threat to Miki, or is Miki’s own internalized guilt starting to act out on her? Perhaps what we’re witnessing is the decline of Miki’s sanity moreso than a malevolent spirit. Or if it is a spirit, perhaps not so malevolent after all.
Shane Ryan’s Tag is a quality, disturbing horror short that plays on a number of genre conventions, including the idea that a naked, dead Asian woman is just inherently more frightening onscreen than most. It mostly stays psychological though, allowing the audience to get as invested as they’d like with the piece. It’s a testament to the quality of the ABCs of Death contest that Ryan’s short was not the ultimate victor; the film more than holds its own.
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