Though utilizing many of the aesthetic conventions that define J-horror thrillers, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s films are, at heart, psychological meditations on dislocation and alienation in which the chasm between life and death narrows as modern man’s isolation increases. In Séance (loosely based on Mark McShane’s novel Séance on a Wet Afternoon, also the basis for a 1964 film), psychic Junko (Jun Fubuki) and sound engineer husband Sato (Kôji Yakusho) find their already strained marriage pushed to the breaking point after a kidnapped young girl turns up, by chance, in their custody. With a psychology professor and a detective enlisting Junko to help search for the missing kid, the couple – who, it’s subtly implied, have grown distant following the loss of their own child – concoct an ill-advised scheme to return the girl to safety in a manner that’ll also aid Junko’s paranormal professional reputation. With a pace that’s measured to the point of near-stasis, Séance is enveloped in bone-chilling dourness, its cool gray color palette and steady (yet barely perceptible) soundtrack buzzing resulting in an atmosphere of muted terror. And ultimately, its portrait of spiritual estrangement generates profound unease less from the face-smudged specters who haunt Junko than from the combustible mixture of arrogance, desperation and guilt fueling the married duo’s foolhardy plot.