The director Sabu, who goes by one name, first caught the attention of critics abroad for his stylish action films, starting with the 1996 “Dangan Runner,” which specialized in desperate heroes and headlong foot chases. He’d go on to broaden his thematic horizons but, at some point, his actors would somehow find a reason to run.

That is also the case with “Dancing Mary,” a spooky fantasy based on an original script by Sabu, which premiered at the 2019 Sitges Film Festival in Spain. It is only now appearing in Japanese theaters due to pandemic-related delays. The film features pop star Naoto Kataoka (who also goes by one name) of Exile in his first leading role. He plays Kenji Fujimoto, a lowly City Hall employee who is drafted to supervise the demolition of an old dance hall.

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