I've been looking forward to take a look at this film ever since I've heard it has been released. It has been difficult to find, though. Many years ago, I have seen a Serbian film "Sveto mesto" ("Holy Ground") which turned out to be fairly good and which I later found out to be based on Gogolj's "Vij". It was one of those rare occasions in which an adaptation is perhaps even better than the story that originated it. It remained one of my most favourite childhood films ever since. When I heard of the Russian version a few years ago I thought it must be even better. I was first taken aback by such a low rating of 3! After I've seen the film and read the comment I pretty much understood why something like this had happened, as the film itself, viewed from the angle of an independent viewer, not concerned with Gogolj's story, or not knowing the background or caring about it, is not the greatest horror film ever, not even a good one at all. The point is this hasn't been made to be a typical horror flick in the first place. It also wasn't meant to scare. It is simply a slightly different version of a classic story we all know, with good special effects that add a lot to the atmosphere. And I also disagree that it was about finding identity or anything like that. It's a folklore story about witches. The scenography is the most beautiful thing about this film. The camera work has also done a very good job. The actors, to be honest, haven't had much chance to show off throughout the film. The story should be out of discussion as we all know what is it all about. The original story is slightly altered as the priest is transformed into a journalist who encounters a priest and after some unfortunate incidents assumes his identity. And so what if it's being situated in an American town doesn't seem realistic? Personally, I don't think that makes any difference. While I watched it, I didn't give much thought to where it all happens, whether in America or rural France. I agree about the bad English subtitles, and I've also read comments about bad dubbing- My opinion about dubbing is that ANY DUBBING IS BAD DUBBING. Besides, it's for lazy people who can't even bother to read the subs. I don't get that. The film could have been a lot better I agree on that. But I also think it wasn't all that horrible after all.
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