Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Evil Does Not Exist,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Venice International Film Festival, had an unusual gestation, beginning as a short film to accompany the performances of musician Eiko Ishibashi, who scored Hamaguchi’s Oscar-winning “Drive My Car.” Along the way, Hamaguchi decided to turn it into a feature film with dialogue.

Far from being a repurposed style-over-substance music video, the film is an incisive meditation on the clash between economic development and environmental protection as well as on humanity’s vexed relationship with nature. It also hums with dramatic tension and palpable menace, as underlined by Ishibashi’s pulsing score.

Scripted by Hamaguchi, the film is an intricately conceived and executed illustration of playwright Anton Chekhov’s famous maxim that if a pistol is introduced in the first act, it must be fired by the second. Words and images from early scenes acquire new depth and force by the climax, which explodes on screen to chilling and lingering effect, leaving the audience wondering exactly what they have just seen. That is, the pistol goes off to perfection — and the echo remains long after the credits roll.