NEW RELIGION on SCREAMBOX is a new Japanese horror movie that plays out more like a thriller ghost story. You might want to manage your expectations in that regard. Read our full New Religion movie review here!
NEW RELIGION is a new Japanese movie on SCREAMBOX. With a runtime of 100 minutes, it isn’t a particularly long watch, but the pacing is very slow. This is not for everyone, so you should be ready for that. Also, it’s very symbolic in many ways as well.
Overall, the visuals are gorgeous, but – for me, anyway – this movie is form over content. However, having seen it described as “body horror”, my expectations were at a very different place. Obviously, this does factor into my own movie-watching experience.
Continue reading our New Religion movie review below. Find it on SCREAMBOX from June 20, 2023.
Cronenberg, yes! Body horror? Not so much
Rather than describing New Religion as body horror, I would call it adjacent to Cronenberg’s style. Both father, David Cronenberg (The Fly, Dead Ringers), and son, Brandon Cronenberg (Possessor). And yes, they do tend to work with body horror – in straight-up iconic ways even.
However, this new Japanese SCREAMBOX addition just isn’t that kind of body horror movie.
In this new Japanese movie, we meet Miyabi who we see losing her only daughter in a tragic accident in the opening scene. Her life is a mess after this, and she ends up divorced and working as a call girl while living with her new boyfriend.
While at work, she meets a somewhat strange customer. He just wants to take a picture of her spine. And her feet, and then her arms, and so on. It seems like he is documenting her entire body one body part at a time.
However, to be clear, taking pictures of various body parts (while attached and the person is alive and volunteers this) does not a body horror movie make.
Instead, New Religion is more of a ghost story as it seems Miyabi becomes able to get in touch with her deceased daughter. Always via one of the body parts recently photographed. Rather than body horror, this is the story of loss and how this can impact society at large.
A hit at genre film festivals
It has gotten quite good reviews at film festivals, and it truly is a deep visual and symbolic experience, so I can understand why. Particularly when screenings have been accompanied by interviews or other discussions afterward.
WE LOVE FILM FESTIVALS
New Religion premiered in North America at the Slamdance Film Festival where it was nominated for best narrative feature.
It has screened at film festivals worldwide including Arrow Video Frightfest (world premiere), the Osaka Asian Film Festival, the Warsaw International Film Festival, and the Lisbon International Horror Film Festival.
Watching a screener in your home theater just is not the same. And yet, that “body horror”-label just doesn’t really make much sense. Especially not when coupled with the name Cronenberg, which many have done in talking about this movie.
And I absolutely understand why.
Watch New Religion on SCREAMBOX
New Religion was written, directed, and produced by first-time feature filmmaker Kondo Keishi. Watching this movie is a fascinating experience and the cast featuring Seto Kaho, Nunami Daiki, Oka Satoshi, and Ryuseigun Saionji deliver strong performances.
Despite the fact that I find the description of a “surrealist body horror film” to be harmful to the movie, I did really enjoy parts of it. I just can’t help but feel that I would’ve enjoyed it more if it hadn’t been billed as body horror.
This is precisely why I’m making a point out of speaking against this label. I’m afraid it will disappoint and be dismissed as “artsy” (which is certainly an accurate label) if anyone watches this expecting the classic body horror style.
With its runtime of 1 hour and 40 minutes, it is worth checking out. Maybe watch the trailer first to have an idea of what to expect.
New Religion is out on SCREAMBOX from June 20, 2023.
Director: Keishi Kondo
Screenwriter: Keishi Kondo
Cast: Daiki Nunami, Satoshi Oka, Saionji Ryuseigun, Kaho Seto
After her daughter’s death, divorced Miyabi begins working as a call girl. One day, she meets an unsettling customer who wants to take pictures of her body parts. Soon, she realizes that every time she allows her body to be photographed her daughter’s spirit gets closer. She must decide how far she is willing to go to connect with her daughter once again.