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Best Wishes To All

Opening Date
07 Mar 2024
NC16 Some Violence and Disturbing Scenes
89 mins
Japanese with English & Chinese subtitles
Horror, Thriller
Yuta Shimotsu
Kotone Furukawa, Koya Matsudai
Executive produced by Takashi Shimizu (creator of Ju On: The Grudge), the film follows a young nursing school student’s visit to her grandparents’ home in the countryside. They enjoy a reunion while she feels increasingly uncomfortable.

There is something in the grandparents’ house. One day, she finds out the truth that turns her “happy” daily life into horror…
By InCinemas  27 Feb 2024
Atmospheric horror with a good deal of ambiguity.
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Best Wishes To All marks the debut of director Yuta Shimotsu. Based on Shimotzu’s 2021 award winning short film, and co-produced by Takashi Shimizu (one of the most prolific director of J-horrors and creator of the Ju-On franchise), Best Wishes To All tackles the subject of aging societies and the resulting underlying social concerns, unconventionally through the lens of horror. While the film does not offer any actual solution, it has given us an unusually fun but grotesque take on an otherwise serious topic.   
At the start of the film, we are introduced to the unnamed Granddaughter, a nursing student living in Tokyo. On her way to the train station for a visit to her grandparents in her hometown, she stops to help an old lady with her bag at a busy pedestrian crossing, while a man knocks her luggage out of her hands and walks off unapologetically. The old lady thanks her and laments how the young will need to sacrifice for the elderly, a cryptic portent of things to come.
The Granddaughter reaches her hometown, she is greeted by a soothing, idyllic rural setting, with seemingly sweet and conventionally doting grandparents in their traditional Japanese house, all of which appears reassuringly normal.
The idyll is soon broken when, the Granddaughter finds a family photo with a girl’s face scratched out while rifling through an old photo album, casting an eerie pall on what was meant to be a cheery hometown visit which only escalates from this point on. She hears strange bumps from the locked room upstairs which her Grandmother dismisses as a room for storing junk. While enjoying a pork dish at dinner, she reacts in distress as her Grandparents suddenly oink like pigs in unison with their only explanation being that pigs should be happy as they have fulfilled their purpose in life. On several occasions, she witnesses her Grandparents standing still as if they are frozen in time. This increasingly creepy behaviourof her Grandparents both frightens and baffles her. Are they going senile, is it the onset of dementia, or is there another, more sinister reason for their bizarre behaviour?  
To makes matters worse, the behaviour also extends other people in the village. The Granddaughter encounters an old friend, a young farmer, when he stops to help a schoolboy fix his bicycle.  When asks why she wants to be a nurse, she answers “to save people” and her old friend responds to say, “save me”.
During another meal with her Grandparents, a man crawls on the floor behind the grandparents as they are eating and as he turns to look at the Granddaughter, it is revealedt hat his eyes and mouth have been sewn shut with black thread. The Grandparents nonchalantly get up and take him back to the upstairs back room. 
The Granddaughter and the audience are invited to discern the reason for the actions of her Grandparents but key choice which the Granddaughter must make is to save the man or her family’s happiness.
The Granddaughter feels her only salvation would come from the arrival of her parents. However, the hope of assistance in dealing with the revelation of her Grandparents’ actions is soon replaced by the hopeless claustrophobic realisation that there is no way out. Pressured to submit herself to the ways of the village, she is asked to choose the comfort of complicityand to accept that her “happiness” is based on pure exploitation and that is drained out of those less fortunate than herself which contravenes the Granddaughter’s earlier stated beliefof saving people.
In my view, the nonchalant inaction and the pragmatic acceptance by the older people in the village who are dismissive to what is happening is the most horrifying to watch even compared with the scenes of literal torture, with the scene where an old woman flatly tells the Granddaughter “I bet you believe the world is good” in response to the Granddaughter’s protestations being one of the most impactful scenes in the whole film.
Kotone Furukawa is electric in the role of the Granddaughter, nailing her character who goes from a confident kindly person to a granddaughter who is terrified, confused and repulsed by what she witnesses around her but torn due to familial deference and the desire to confirm. The audience will identify with the innocent but tortured granddaughter as everything around her falls apart and becomes more and more bizarre.
Further kudos also should be given to the two actors who play the grandparents as they undoubtably are the stars who steal the show, with their perverse transformation from quirky grandparents into a distorted funhouse reflection of themselves who are only concerned with their happiness at the expense of others.
It is admirable how the atmosphere of horror is created and expanded throughout the duration of the film, turning the setting of seemingly peaceful Japanese over its head and showcasing the darkness and cruelty lurking. Director Shimotsu skilfully presents the maddening secrets behind the search for happiness with the effective use of innocuous brief flashbacks contrasted with ongoing narrative. However, he also leaves us with a good deal of ambiguity allowing the audience to draw our own conclusions.
The film ends with more questions than answers. But I must say that ambiguity makes Best Wishes To All more memorable and when the film ends and its message, that “society needs exploitation to thrive,” highlights the irony of the title in that it is clear that best wishes are not provided to all in the pursuit of one’s happiness.
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