( Russia, 2022) has been called post-horror or `elevated hiorror`. The star of it is Irina Starshenbaum who has formed the romantic lead of many a Russian film these last few years. (Western viewers may have caught her in the science fiction flick Attraction
, from 2016).
Starhenbaum is also an early vocal opponent of the invasion of Ukraine and has caught some flack for this. Fortunately, this has not ended her career for Sisters
is the most serious, adult film that she has yet been involved with. It aims to focus awareness on domestic violence agaisnt women in Russia ( hardly a cause celebre
there) -and its release this November was made to coincide with International Day to Oppose Violence Against Women.
Yet it is also a horror miovie, with some supoernatural elements.
Anya is a woman with a young son who is attempting to flee her controlling and sometimes aggressive businessman husband (an understated Nikita Efremov). Finding herself locked into her flat she turns to online help and makes contact with a `sisterhood` that throws a lifeline to her. However, it becomes apparent that this sisterhood is one possessed of altogether sinister forces....
The premise does not do justice to this stylish, thoughtful film. It is all about ambience - an ambience brought about by shadowy photography, edgy acting and a great spectral score. There is something of Polanski about it in its sense of paranoia and uncertainty.
Some critics have said that it - literally - demonises the very people who are trying to aid the situation (viz, women's self-help groups) - but I feel that this is an over literal reading of a complex cinematic experience.
If you like slow burner movies that can be watched again and again then this is for you. Mainstream horror fans, if there is such a thing, may well find it too subtle.
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