Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dead Daughters.

Pavel Ruminov | 2007 | 123 min | Russia

There is a Russian ghost story about three girls who were drowned by their mother in the bathtub. The mother is committed to an asylum following the murders + years later the dead daughters return to have their bloody revenge. . . but it isn't enough to sate their anger. For decades now the daughters have roamed the streets of Moscow, choosing others to follow for three days. Should the daughters witness that person commit any evil act in that time, they are murdered.

A woman recounts that legend to her circle of friends one night at a party. They all laugh it off, but when the storyteller is found butchered in her apartment the next day, the surviving friends quickly panic. The film follows this distraught group for the next three days as their imaginations run wild + they try to adhear to a strict righteous code. Some make amends with business associates, others lock themselves in their homes with printed pages from a Ten Commandments website, some crumble under the pressure of trying to live beyond reproach for even a few days.

Dead Daughters develops into not only a tense + bizarre thriller but an interesting comment on the arbitrary nature of morality, as well. Even though the group would certainly consider themselves good people, they begin to sweat when they are forced to examine every move they make through the eyes of others. Suddenly their casual teasing, gossip, + practical jokes take on far more dire implications than they ever would have imagined. At two hours it is considerably slower in pace than the Japanese ghost stories we have been used to seeing in recent years, but it's great to see a different take on the idea. And largely due to the great camera work + visuals, it is never so slow that one begins to lose interest. It is also interesting to see a picture of young urbanites in contemporary Russia. I'm sure that is something most people haven't had the chance to witness in feature film or otherwise.

Like with most thrillers, it is difficult to say much about Dead Daughters without betraying what makes it remarkable. You'll simply have to decide for yourself if "exceptional modern Russian ghost horror" is an appealing label. I hope that this film, along with the great success of the Nightwatch series, marks a growth in the export of Russian genre film. Now that Nightwatch seems to be more than a strange fluke, I'm very curious about seeing what else is out there. Apparently there is already an English remake of Dead Daughters in development. Ugh. So track it down now.

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