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average score
Russia - 41 years old
Alive and kicking
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Dark Spell

Privorot. Chernoe Venchanie
2021 / 92m - Russia
Dark Spell poster

Podgaevskiy is working hard to establish himself as the tsar of modern Russian horror cinema. And it must be said, he's doing a pretty swell job. Dark Spell is his latest film and while core genre fare, Podgaevskiy gives his film the right amount of polish and flair to make it rise above its many peers.

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When Zhenya finds the father of her child cheating with another woman, she has no clue how to go on. Out of desperation, she consults a local witch, who teaches her a love spell. Zhenya casts the spell on her ex-boyfriend, unaware that she's about to destroy the lives of everybody involved.

Podgaevskiy's use of local folklore is always interesting, mixed with elements that reminded me of Nacho Cerdà's Genesis, it makes for a solid premise. Performances are decent, the horror elements are well executed, Podgaevskiy's direction is slick, the finale is pretty cool. A short runtime and perfect pacing make this prime horror filler.

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 Mermaid: Lake of the Dead

Rusalka: Ozero Myortvykh
2018 / 90m - Russia
Fantasy, Horror
The Mermaid: Lake of the Dead poster

Fun and capable horror film. Definitely not the most original of films, but the lore is interesting enough and the direction is well above average. Decent acting, fine camerawork and moody settings make this perfect horror filler material. Whatever you do though, don't watch the English dub because that's a complete abomination.

Queen of Spades: The Dark Rite

Pikovaya Dama. Chyornyy Obryad
2015 / 92m - Russia
Queen of Spades: The Dark Rite poster

Solid horror flick, that isn't afraid to borrow from more famous franchises (Candyman in particular), but adds its own flavor to makes sure it isn't just a poor carbon copy. Solid atmosphere, decent actors and a few nice scares make this a nice addition to the Russian horror niche. Not the most original film, but good fun.