Short movie time: Reason To Oblivion (2021) review [JFFH 2022]

Introduction

While it is not difficult to make a low-budget narrative, it is not that easy to make a narrative that succeeds in engaging the spectator and showcases one’s talent. Yuu Miyahara is one of the latest individuals seeking a place within the cinema landscape to give expression to his creative voice. Can his creative voice charm the spectator?  

Review

A girl (Kanami Okuma) is running in the forest, but she fails to escape a big man (Kohei Mashiba). He catches up with her and knocks her unconscious. Upon retuning home with his prey, his mother (Keiko Iida) expresses her happiness with his catch, but tells her simple son she is, in her current state, too thin to be eaten.

The next day, upon waking up, she realizes that she has been chained by the neck in the basement. The sound of half-naked enslaved others, eating their bloody food like dogs, confront her with the dire and horrifying situation she has ended up in. Not much later, she is forced by the big man to eat the bloody gruel his mother made. Can she escape or is her fate sealed?

Reason To Oblivion (2021) by Yuu Miyahara

Reason To Oblivion might be short narrative, Miyahara shows that he can fluidly blend horror,sci-fi, and mystery pleasantly together into a compelling narrative. What makes Reason To Oblivion so interesting and engaging is the narrative play with dream and reality. This play, which underpins the mystery element of the narrative, allows Miyahara to deliver a surprising twist and finish his story with more questions than answers.  

While, in many cases, a lack of narrative closure is deeply unsatisfying for the spectator, Miyahara’s narrative leaves the spectator wanting more. He wants to know more about the motherly monster and the happy simple son who obeys here. And what about the man on the bicycle (Hiroto Cho)? Why does he collect what he collects? What is his ultimate purpose?

Reason To Oblivion (2021) by Yuu Miyahara

Miyahara brings Reason To Oblivion visually to life with a balanced blend of rough shaky dynamism, static moments, and more fluid dynamism. Shaky dynamism and swift cutting are thoughtfully applied to heighten the tension within the narrative, while fluid dynamic and static moments are utilized to show the spectator the horrifying and bloody truth – e.g. a fridge full of human remains, a pot boiling freshly cut hair, … etc.    

Yet, the threatening and unsettling quality of Miyahara’s narrative is not simply function of instances of swift cutting or the compositional shakiness, but of the musical accompaniment and the sound-design. The sounds that agitate the visuals echo the constant threat and allows the shakiness to powerfully reverberate the subjective disarray of the subject-as-victim. The threatening atmosphere of Reason To Oblivion also relies heavily on the graininess of the image, the use of depth-of-field, and a dark and dirty colour-design (Colour-note 1, colour-note 2). The realm of murky shadows haunts every image – sometimes with a nice shot-composition as a result – and the intensity of the red-colours play an instrumental role in keeping the spectator ill at ease and on the edge of his seat.  

Reason To Oblivion (2021) by Yuu Miyahara

Reason To Oblivion is a pleasant horror narrative that showcases Miyahara’s talent in keeping the spectator engaged. His short narrative, in short, leaves the spectator wanting for more. We hope he will take this concept up again in the future and adds more flesh to the bone – pun intended – and turn it into a feature film.  

Notes

Colour-note 1: While the colours within this narrative are generally murky, Miyahara delivers some pleasant colour-contrasts – e.g. hues of the face contrasted with the bloody reds within the refrigerator – and some unusual colour highlights – e.g. a purplish hue decorating the bodies in the forest.

Colour-note 2: In certain instances, Miyahara utilizes colour-overlays

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