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Chattanooga Film Fest 2023 "New Religion" - movie review

New Religion, directed by the talented filmmaker Keishi Kondo, promised a gripping experience of dynamic obsession and body horror. With a visually beautiful and haunting presentation, the film had all the ingredients for a magnificent cinematic journey. However, despite its flawless shots and an Asian urban decay setting that oozed the atmosphere, the dreadfully slow pace extinguished the potential greatness of this intriguing film.

There's no denying that New Religion is a visually captivating piece of art. Kondo's keen eye for aesthetics shines through, as each shot is meticulously crafted and flawlessly executed. The Asian urban decay setting adds to the eerie atmosphere, immersing viewers in a world of darkness and unease.

The concept of an individual's obsession with body parts is not entirely novel in horror cinema, but New Religion attempts to bring a fresh perspective to it. The film's strangeness and eeriness are evident, but unfortunately, it struggles to find its footing. The dreadful pace becomes a major hindrance, preventing the narrative from truly taking off and captivating the audience.

Keishi Kondo displays immense talent as a filmmaker. It is evident that he possesses the ability to create magnificent works of art. However, there seems to be something missing from the execution of New Religion that prevents it from reaching its full potential. Perhaps it's a lack of a compelling story or a failure to introduce elements that could have injected excitement into the film.

One aspect where New Religion succeeds is in capturing the theme of dread. The overwhelming feeling of unease and apprehension permeates the entire film. It hits the mark in terms of creating an unsettling atmosphere that keeps the audience on edge. The film's ability to evoke these emotions is commendable and serves as a testament to Kondo's skill in creating a chilling ambiance.

While New Religion falls short of expectations, it is not without its merits. The film's visual beauty and haunting ambiance are undeniable. There is a potential for greatness within Kondo's filmmaking style, but it feels unfulfilled in this particular instance. The slow pace and lack of a compelling narrative hinder the overall experience.

As much as one may want to like New Religion more, the film's flaws make it difficult to fully embrace. Another viewing might shed new light on its intricacies, but the issue lies in mustering the enthusiasm to endure it again. With a rating of 2 out of 5, New Religion's potential remains unfulfilled, leaving the viewer yearning for more excitement and engagement. Here's hoping that Kondo's next film will showcase a tighter execution and provide the captivating experience that this film promised but ultimately failed to deliver.


NEW RELIGION is directed by Keishi Kondo and stars Kaho Seto, Satoshi Oka and Daiki Nunami.

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