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Baba Yaga: Terror of the Dark Forest

Yaga. Koshmar Tyomnogo Lesa
2020 / 95m - Russia
Baba Yaga: Terror of the Dark Forest poster

Podgaevskiy seems to be having a lot of fun turning Russian legends and folklore into horror films. I've been trying to keep up with his work and while his films are never truly exceptional, Podgaevskiy has a knack for entertaining, well-made horror cinema. Baba Yaga fits that description to a t.

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The Baba Yaga is a pretty basic witch. She lives in the forest and steals children away from their parents. Once in her power, the children are forgotten by their families. When Egor's little sister has vanished though, he feels something isn't right and because his parents aren't willing to listen to him, he gathers a few of his friends to find out what happened.

Podgaevskiy's films aren't gory, nor are they very scary. Instead, he aims for mood and atmosphere, adding minor fantasy elements and putting a strong focus on lighting and cinematography. Performances are solid too and the score is also pretty decent. All in all a fun, stylish and entertaining horror film.

The Blackout

2019 / 127m - Russia
Sci-fi, Action
The Blackout poster

Straight-forward, but fun and entertaining sci-fi/invasion flick that does things just a little differently. The Blackout is pure genre work, but made with a bigger budget. That means that there isn't too much drama and/or pandering to all potential groups of cinema goers, but a purer focus on the sci-fi and action elements.

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Even though the film doesn't look cheap, it's clear that they still had to cut some corners. The sci-fi elements are well executed, but not very consistent. When needed for world-building and effect they are given the necessary time in the spotlight, at the other times the film looks surprisingly mundane and contemporary.

The actors are decent enough, the reveal halfway through is interesting and the finale is explosive. There are moments when the film goes above and beyond mere genre expectations, but they are few and far between. The ending isn't entirely satisfactory either, but I'll be there for the sequel regardless.