BEST WISHES TO ALL (みなに幸あれ) (2023)

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: Yuta Shimotsu
Cast: Kotone Furukawa, Koya Matsudai
Runtime: 1 hr 29 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Violence and Disturbing Scenes)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 7 March 2024

Synopsis: Executive produced by Takashi Shimizu (creator of Ju On: The Grudge), the film follows a young nursing school student’s visit to her grandparents’ home in the countryside. They enjoy a reunion while she feels increasingly uncomfortable. There is something in the grandparents’ house. One day, she finds out the truth that turns her “happy” daily life into horror…

Movie Review:

This is one odd Japanese film that is marketed as a horror movie that may leave you scratching your head after stepping out of the cinema. The scary flicks we are familiar with from the Land of the Rising Sun usually features vengeful spirits, cursed objects or haunted locations that send chills down your spine. Once in a while, there are jump scares and bloody images that shock you. Famous scenes from memorable titles like Ringu (1998), Ju-On: The Grudge (2002) and Dark Water (2002) come to mind when we have conversations about contemporary Japanese horror movies.

In this film directed by Yuta Shimotsu, there is the unsettling atmosphere and mood that we have seen in other Japanese productions. But to audiences who are used to stories that have clear explanations and proper resolutions, this movie may not be your cup of tea.

Shimotsu’s first feature is based on short film and that may be the reason why the 89 minute runtime seems longer than it actually is. The protagonist is a nursing student who returns to her serene and quiet countryside home. All seems to be normal when she is greeted by her smiling grandparents. They have a nice meal together, talk about how she is doing in Tokyo, while she looks forward to the arrival of her parents and young brother.

When the two elderly folks begin oinking like pigs during a meal, we sense that something is wrong. They then start talking about how pigs’ very existence is to be eaten by humans, and we really aren’t sure where this story is headed. Like us, the girl is bewildered. There are also strange noises coming from a closed room in the house, which add to the mystery of what’s really going on.

One would think that there is some sort of spirit in the house, and there is a part of the plot that deals with guilt and trauma. Nope, things are not as simple as that. We soon see a man whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut with black thread crawling on the floor. The old folks nonchalantly drag him back to the room like it’s something they do every other day.

We don’t want to spoil the movie by saying too much, but the scenes we’ve described above are just some of the peculiar things to expect from the film. Some viewers would demand a reason why there are such strange occurrences, but the movie wouldn’t give you that satisfaction. Instead, it just delivers sights and sounds that get more bizarre, especially after the girl’s family arrives. Some of these scenes are truly disturbing, and while they are artistically filmed, they may not be for the faint hearted.

We will be straightforward to tell you that by the end of the movie, there are no clear reasons for all the baffling things you have seen on screen. The filmmakers have successfully create an uncomfortable sense of dread, complemented by puzzling visuals that stay with you. There are some exchanges between characters which mention what it takes to be happy, and whether what we are seeing through our eyes are real. All these questions will leave you thinking about what the film is trying to say, and that might not be a bad thing if you can live with ambiguity and weirdness.

Movie Rating:

(One of the oddest Japanese horror movies we've seen, this unsettling film is worth your time if you are open to embracing ambiguity and weirdnes)

Review by John Li

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