FrightFest review – III

III-sisters-and-priestIII A Russian supernatural  horror film, though also measured and picturesque enough to seem like an arty exercise until the fairly hokey climax takes it back to regular genre stuff.  In a remote town in an unspecified country (Russian and German locations) and at an unspecified time, a mystery illness is striking down the population … with quarantine of the victims, a lack of medical attention (the fact there aren’t teams in HazMat suits everywhere suggests this isn’t the present day) and a very Russian despairing attitude leading to a lot of hand-wringing and shrugging.  Having lost her mother, young woman Ayia (Polina Davydova) wants to stick by her stricken sister Mirra (Lyubov Ignatushko) but the locals want Mirra isolated.  Father Herman (Evgeniy Gagarin), the local priest, owes the family for raising him – though it later turns out he’s a semi-immortal demon so he might not exactly have grown up with his ‘sisters’.  Rituals are performed and Ayia enters a desolate limboworld to perform an Orpheus-like rescue of her sister, though their complicated relationship makes her classical task more difficult.  There are strange creatures in the dreamworld, and the cinematography is spectacular … but it’s still a bit of a trudge storywise (even at 80mins, it feels padded and repetitive), and the Russian gloom is so heavy as to be almost comical.  Scripted by Aleksandra Khvaleeva; directed by Pavel Khvaleev.



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