The international title for this commercially successful Russian horror film takes me back to the VHS days when people stuck cash-in labels on the oddest things – Heathers just missed being released as Lethal Attraction but Leprechaun 2 did marvellously come out in the UK as One Wedding and a Lot of Funerals. The original title translates as The Route is Calculated, which stresses a comparatively minor haunted Sat-Nav element. It nods to Christine with use of Danny and the Juniors’ ‘A Thousand Miles Away’ as the theme for the possessed car bought by troubled couple Andrey (Pavel Chinaryov) and Olya (Svetlana Ustinova) just before they drive across country to drop off their little daughter Ksena (Vitaliya Kornienko) with Andrey’s mother so they can take a holiday to patch up their fractured marriage.
Pill-popping Olya’s problems include realising that Andrey is a chronically unfaithful dick and that she’s going to have another baby – but there’s also an issue with the fact that their new car was used to stow the chopped-up parts of a murder victim whose angry spirit seems to have been left behind with photographs, scissors and other stuff. As they drive through the night, Andrey continually does stupid things – like taking a gun along on a jaunt across a field to ask directions from a group of suspicious men who are plainly upto no good – and is cravenly looking for a way to get shot of his family so he can move on to hot, inexplicably smitten Lena (Diana Melison). Director Oleg Assadulin, who co-scripted with Ivan Kapitonov, works hard on the jump scares, with all manner of manifestations inside and outside the car – but the ghost is oddly irrelevant to the collapse of the couple’s relationship, and the last act seems to skip the rails from haunting into psycho-drama after the manner of Haut Tension. Andrey is a splendidly hateful character, who does literally everything wrong – leaving the kid alone in the car so he can make a crafty call to his mistress, slapping Olya for claiming that her biggest mistake was having a child with him, getting into a road rage drag race with another driver while his toddler is in the back seat. The ghost wavers between punishing the guilty and general malignity – and there are a couple of dream sequences just to get some other horrors into the picture.
It’s overheated and overdramatic, which might be specific to this – or might be a trait of the relatively few Russian supernatural horror films. Ustinova is pretty good as the distressed woman who doubts her senses, especially since her husband keeps telling her she’s seeing things. The manifestations – elongated figures, screaming haggard women, self-tightening seatbelts – are standard features of this model.