NYAFF mainstay Kazuya Shiraishi (Last of the Wolves, NYAFF 2021) returns with his most elegant, restrained work yet, but with plenty of gore in this seductive thriller about a diabolical serial killer who from death row contacts a young law student for help. Former baker Harumura (a chillingly quiet Sadao Abe) has been sentenced to die for 24 beastly killings over a seven-year period, yet refuses to confess to the ninth murder, the sole adult victim and the only one who nearly got away. Shiraishi’s unrivaled visual panache complements the harrowing buildup of suspense. As Harumura continues to exert a frightening power over the innocent, the ensuing cat-and-mouse game is rife with shocking twists and nauseating turns in this electrifying meditation on the good, the bad, and the irredeemable.

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