Japan Cuts Festival of New Japanese Film (all virtual this year).
Just before the disaster struck, Midori (the evil collective called her “Ap”) saw visions of it in a prophetic dream. That certainly impressed the Sacred Tide. Even though she managed to escape, they still keep tabs on her through brainwashed members stalking her on campus. To make matters worse, she is having catastrophic visions again.
Meanwhile, the popular but under-achieving Toko tries to take out her frustrations on loner Okita, after discovering his morbid fascination with a string of cat mutilation-murders. However, his interest is not what she assumes. Instead, he is conducting his own investigation, because he suspects the crimes are linked to the murder of a classmate.
Although Sacrifice lacks the operatic sweep and outré imagery of Sion Sono’s Love Exposure, the films are close cousins thematically. However, there is a ripped-from-the-headlines matter-of-factness to Sacrifice that just might make it more unsettling. Tsuboi vividly portrays how cult members willingly surrender their individuality. He also makes it clear doomsday cults are in the doomsday business.
Sacrifice only runs a svelte 76 minutes (another dramatic contrast to Sono’s 237-minute Exposure), but Tsuboi still successfully springs several surprising revelations within that time-frame. Fans of Pynchon’s Crying of Lot 49 should definitely appreciate how crazy the grand conspiracy gets, yet it always scrupulously observes the internal logic of the hyper-real world Tsuboi creates. Very highly recommended, Sacrifice screens virtually through July 30th, as part of the 2020 Japan Cuts.