In time loop films, protagonists learn to leap the absurd hurdles the loop presents and learn about themselves in the process. For example, Bill Murray’s obnoxious weatherman in the 1993 film “Groundhog Day” repeats Feb. 2 dozens of times until he wakes up a better man on Feb. 3.

Shinji Araki’s intriguing but frustrating “Penalty Loop” turns this narrative arc on its head: Instead of spiritual self-improvement, a employee (Ryuya Wakaba) at a hydroponic farm gets stuck in a time loop and tries to become a more effective killer. His target? A laconic maintenance man (Yusuke Iseya) who works in the same building — and murdered the protagonist’s girlfriend (Rio Yamashita).

Based on an original script by Araki, whose 2020 debut feature “The Town of Headcounts” was also a dark fantasy with philosophical overtones, the film is short on explanations and internal logic, with important questions avoided instead of answered.