2021-2030DramaHorrorJapanKeishi Kondo

Keishi Kondo – New Religion (2022)

A truly independent film, Kondo made it in between fulltime work commitments and a crowdfunding campaign to help with post-production. What we get is a horror movie that feels close to the supernatural apocalypse films that Kiyoshi Kurosawa put out in the late 90s/early 2000s but it is wrapped up in an affecting portrait of the main character’s inchoate grief warping reality.

When we first meet the main protagonist, Miyabi (Kaho Seto), we see the tragedy that eats away at her throughout the film. While reading Virginia’s Wolfe’s The Lighthouse in the kitchen of her high-rise apartment, she fails to stop her daughter plunging to her death. Fast-forward a few years and a broken marriage and we find that she is working as a call girl and living with her DJ boyfriend (Ryuseigun Saionji), all while living in the same apartment and with her daughter’s items still around.

There is a shroud of death covering her, one might say, and that becomes exploited by the film’s antagonist of sorts, a mysterious photographer (Satoshi Oka) whose use of a voice box gives him a unnatural sound while he moves in an almost mechanical way. He is seemingly connected to the psychotic break and disappearance experienced by another call girl and it seems that Miyabi might be next in line. How? With every meeting at his creepy apartment, he takes pictures of parts of her body. Her feet, her legs, her spine. Miyabi is initially suspicious but that feeling fades away as she soon senses that with every photo taken she can detect her daughter’s spirit. She becomes addicted and finds herself departing from the calm façade she has built up to become more morbid.

With each part of her he captures on film, Miyabi finds herself losing something of her essential spirit. As she starts to come closer to the daughter she lost she moves closer to facing the grief that she has tamped down inside of herself but she risks losing everything.

The film is nicely eerie mood piece about the dissolution of identities but also deals with terminally disengaged and depressed society.

The world of the characters that Keishi Kondo depicts is one with a downbeat atmosphere, apocalyptic in a Pulse-like way. Characters exist in soulless, dispassionate urban spaces and cold interiors – shot in non-descript areas of the director’s native Nagoya city, it seems. Drive-by exposition from news reports and terse dialogue between captures an exaggerated version of contemporary Japanese malaise as we hear the economy has stalled, murders are common, and, as the narrative continues, it seems that Miyabi will become part of this cycle of dissolution and destruction.

Many of the characters who live in this space are lost in mourning or enduring tremendous psychological abuse and strain and death is never far. Indeed, Miyabi’s handler (Daiki Nunami) asks her, “Am I talking to the dead?” as he tries to figure out the seemingly malign influence of photographer’s pictures as Miyabi seems drained of life with every job he drives her to. The acting of the cast is pitch-perfect as there is a certain stiffness that seems appropriate to the bleak tone of a film where people have lost vitality and are losing their hope. All in all, it is an exquisite atmosphere that builds dread.


Container:  	Matroska
Runtime: 	1 h 40 min
Size: 	6.39 GiB
Codec: 	h264
Resolution: 	1920x1080 
Aspect ratio:  	16:9
Frame rate: 	23.976 fps
Bit rate: 	8 891 kb/s
BPP: 	0.179
#1:  	Japanese 2.0ch E-AC-3 @ 224 kb/s



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