New York Premiere

Carefully blending horror tropes and thriller elements into a formally restrained, razor-sharp social satire that lovingly melds the humdrum and the deranged, Sabu’s Miss Zombie is a movie so dense it could bend light: running at 85 minutes, it’s a work of compact beauty, predominantly monochrome and largely free of dialogue. On one level the film is an impossibly off-kilter housemaid drama, in which rich family man Dr. Teramoto (Toru Tezuka) receives a very special delivery: a crate containing a mail-order female zombie maid (actress-model Ayaka Komatsu), complete with an instruction manual prescribing a vegetarian diet, a cautionary note against any meat, and a gun… just in case. Teramoto’s wife, Shizuko (Makoto Togashi, Guilty of Romance), promptly puts the zombie to work, assigning her the dreary task of scrubbing the garden patio—surely a job only a brain-dead zombie could endure. Soon she is physically and sexually abused by those around her and things take an ominous turn. This is the other level of the film, a dark, melancholy tale of maternal love and revenge, full of dry, ironic humor and abrupt twists, which playfully challenges the audience’s expectations. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.