When film festivals moved online at the height of the pandemic, it became harder for movies to generate buzz in the traditional sense. Without the galvanic effect of having a roomful of critics and influencers watch something together at once, even heavyweight contenders struggled to leave their mark.

All the same, Takayuki Kayano’s “Journey Beyond the Night” seemed to get people talking when it screened — or, more accurately, streamed — at last year’s virtual Skip City International D-Cinema Festival. After receiving a couple of awards, this audacious low-budget feature is now getting a well-deserved theatrical release.

It’s a film that is best approached without any prior knowledge, so I’d advise curious readers to stop here and turn straight to the Sports section. In the tradition of movies from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” to Ben Wheatley’s “Kill List,” “Journey Beyond the Night” starts in one place — and genre — but ends up somewhere entirely different.