I stopped watching this film about mid-way and came back to it later (it just happened that way...had nothing to do with the film itself) but what I discovered is that this movie is really two different genres and narratives in one. And the thing is that in this case, I can't decide if it's a good or a bad thing. The first part is somewhere between a straight up drama/tragedy, an introspective narrative on family, loss, relationships, blah blah. The second part is a essentially a thriller. Both, separately, are done pretty well. Together, they make for an unusual mix. The mix is soured by the fact that the part that should have been given more screen time is the thriller one.
There is some really great writing and acting in this, nice shots, interesting pacing and nice editing. As some people have pointed out, the movie does move painfully slowly at certain moments. I'm going to assume the director did that on purpose as a kind of 'slow simmer' for the big explosion that comes at the end.
It's worth a look, but I won't call it a masterpiece, as some critics have.
Comedy or Horror? Hard to Tell With This Massive Bomb
I couldn't agree with wadev's review more. This movie was truly awful. How did this ever get picked by the Tribeca Fest? Some of the "horror" scenes were so silly, I kept laughing -- as did many other people in the audience. It was not suspenseful, it was not scary, the characters were dull, the pace was slow, lots of unnecessary scenes and yet tons of underdeveloped plot lines. I want to watch a movie and care about why these characters ended up where they did and what is going to happen to them next. Watching this, I could care less. I was wondering what a decent actor like Adam Goldberg was doing in this drivel. I could see that he was trying to treat this role seriously, but it was impossible to take this film seriously.
Unforgettable film that will haunt you forever (especially if you watch it as a child)
One reviewer said that you won't want to watch this film twice, because it is so dark. And she was right. Ironically, over the summers of '83-84, this movie was shown CONSTANTLY at my camp, which was located in New York for all Soviet kids. I guess because we had so few Soviet films in our library. And yes, the scene with the "chuma" -- plague -- I had to watch, through my fingers -- more than once. This movie was so horrifyingly scary for a child, so dark and unbelievable that I would have rather watched "Hellraiser" at that age. No joke. Yes, the special effects are silly, but they're beside the point. From the scene in which Marta's brother is kidnapped (absolutely chilling) to the journey through the dark plague-ridden land (really, beyond words) and many other scenes, the film never ever lets you off the hook. There are some light moments, but darkness is never far behind. The plot, however, makes sense, psychedelic as it is. It is like a fantasy realism. I haven't seen it in its entirety since I was a kid, and I wonder if I should just leave it that way...