With its focus on the emotional aftermath of a religious cult’s terrorist attack on Tokyo, “Distance” was always going to invite comparisons with the Aum cult’s nerve gas attack on the city’s subway system in 1995.
Yet, rather than simply recreating that tragedy, “Distance” takes us into a far more complex, and decidedly more unsettling, drama about loss and bereavement.Three years after the fictional Ark of Truth group has contaminated Tokyo’s water supply with a genetically-engineered virus, leaving 128 people dead and 8,000 injured, four of the dead cult members’ relatives meet to pay their respects to their loved ones at the lake where their ashes were scattered.
Forced to spend the night in the forest after their car is stolen, the foursome end up staying with the group’s only surviving member in their old headquarters.Despite providing plenty of flashbacks to the events that led up to the fatal day, writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda never explains their motivation. Proving more interested in the reactions of the cult members’ relatives, this muted drama builds into a brooding study of their feelings of loss, responsibility, and incomprehension.
By using lots of handheld camerawork and deliberately eschewing the use of any musical score, “Distance” creates the kind of unsettling atmosphere that could have come straight out of a horror film… except there’s no monster, nothing supernatural, and no real demons.
It’s creepy, inspired film-making, demonstrating that Japanese cinema’s current interest in the horrific stretches far beyond shockfests like “Ring”, “Battle Royale”, and “Audition”.
Much like 2001’s “Eureka”, this impressionistic film knows that real horror is to be found in recognizing the gulf of incomprehension that lies between one’s self and others.
3.67GB | 2 h 12 min | 996×576 | mkv