Seance | Chicago Reader

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A psychic and her husband, who works as a sound-effects technician, unwittingly get involved in a kidnap case, and she tries to use her powers to locate the victim. This loose 2000 remake of the psychological study Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) is less straightforward and more metaphysical than the original, raising just as many questions as it answers about the supernatural, free will, unintended consequences, and guilt. Writer-director Kiyoshi Kurosawa twists the conventions of the supernatural-mystery genre in unexpected ways. He also uses an elaborately layered sound track and a muted, elegant visual style—which charges spaces with a creepy ambience while disclosing incriminating detail, in scenes that owe a debt to Hitchcock and Kubrick—to implicate the audience in what the couple hear and see and in their sense of frustration and dread. There's a lot of bravado and perversity and too much philosophical musing in Kurosawa's chronicle of a guilt trip, but his vision of how ambition and boredom can warp ordinary people is truly frightening. With Koji Yakusho and Jun Fubuki. 97 min.

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