SALEM HORROR FEST: In a Dark, Dark Room (2021)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This movie was watched as part of Salem Horror Fest.

V chorniy, chorniy kimnati is directed and written by Denis Sobolev and tells the story of Volt (Artur Novikov), Tomcat (Anton Sokol), and Petiunia (Illia Vyshnevetskyi), three teens explore an abandoned archaeological dig site of a pagan origin in their small hometown. Inside, they find an amulet and get the idea to start wishing upon it. Volt asks for what’s in his heart: he wants to want wild dogs tear his history teacher to bloody chunks.

The substitute teacher that replaces her, Gottlib (Rei Yeremii), is more than just someone able to teach a class. He’s been after this group of pagans for decades, swearing revenge for the curse they placed on his mother. And yes, while the three teens hide in the woods, ashamed and fascinated by their wishes, everyone learns that this small Ukranian town has been filled with witches for hundreds of years and that hasn’t changed.

The main issues most reviewers have had with this movie are that it takes big leaps back and forth in time which makes it seem quite disjointed. And, well, if you don’t speak Ukrainian, the subtitles aren’t going to help you at all.

That said, I enjoyed seeing a movie that doesn’t depend on being set in the past to be a folk horror film. The Ukraine is a country that so many of us have thought about and the idea of a long-forgotten horror being so close to Kyiv is incredibly intriguing. The lure of wishes fulfilled exists everywhere, in every time, and rarely leads to positive ends.

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