Cast: Kaho, Masahiro Higashide, Shota Sometani
Official Selection, 2018 Berlin International Film Festival
In YOCHO (FOREBODING), Japanese master Kiyoshi Kurosawa is at it again, condensing a five episode TV series into a chilling film that asks: what if alien takeover actually operated like a computer virus, slowly erasing humanity’s collective hard drive of ideas like family, fear, and love? Kurosawa thrills in the anxiety of science fiction, the superficial quiet of business-as-usual, while everything goes apocalyptically haywire underneath a plastic sheet of normalcy. A follow-up to last year’s Before We Vanish (SDAFF, ’17), YOCHO is even more tense, thrilling, and accessible–bringing us Kurosawa’s familiar mix of spare horror, dry humor, flabbergasted earthlings, a schleppy husband, and a heroic wife we unexpectedly root for.
When a coworker seems to lose her mind, believing her family are aliens, it’s the first sign for wide-eyed factory worker Etsuko that something is deeply amiss. Meanwhile, her dazed husband Tatsuo has become an unwilling “guide” for Dr. Makabe, a terrifying alien in human form, tasked with sucking out human concepts with the tap of an ET finger. As an alien invasion gains momentum, Etsuko uncovers unknown strengths and must figure out how to free Tatsuo from Dr. Makabe’s insatiable hunger. Set against the backdrop of humanity’s inevitable collapse, their fight for survival becomes oddly romantic, darkly comedic, and frightening all at once.
Kurosawa’s artistry becomes its own kind of alien invasion, infecting the imagination with only suggestion, minimal special effects, and pure filmcraft – a camera that moves in a daze, the slow pace of doom, a curtain rustle. As Etsuko, Kaho’s enormous satellite eyes beam disbelief, anger, or panic. Shota Sometani’s Tatsuo is a veritable Peter Lorre of wily submission, and Masahiro Higashide chills as Dr. Makabe, who has the unreadable stare of a fish or perhaps, a sick hearted scientist – cold, clinical, and potentially very, very, predatorial.
– Christina Ree