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Getting lost, wandering home whilst on leave from his seminary, novice monk Khoma stays in the barn of an old woman. A scuffle breaks out. Later, he is summoned to stand and pray over a young dead woman, in the local church, for three nights. It is here that, while in the long, dark nights of the locked doors, the dead regain life, the souls of Hell taunt the young monk to near terrifying insanity, and the test of Faith will be as powerful as the witches, monsters and the mighty demon Viy who haunt his every step and bay for his very soul.Written by
Viy is based on the same story, written by Nikolai Gogol, that inspired Mario Bava's masterpiece, Black Sunday. While the films have some similarities; for example, a witch and a fairytale atmosphere; the two really aren't much alike. Black Sunday went more for the straight horror, and was a better film for it. Viy is more of a religious themed film, and the witch plot line offers more in the way of the faith of the lead character than actual horror. The film has a massive amount of cult value, mostly due to the fact that it's not much like any other movie in terms of its style. The music and atmosphere combine to give it an other-worldly feel, and this helps massively where the plot is concerned. The basis of the film follows a man of God who must spend three days and three nights presiding over the corpse of a young girl, who also happens to be the local witch. Being dead isn't much of a hindrance to the witch, as she bombards our hero with black magic. With only his faith to protect him; will he be able to last three nights with her corpse?
The first half of the movie is really rather dull, as not a lot happens and it seems to mostly be a set-up for the latter section. The plot does pick up as the film goes on; but the film is never massively engaging, and that is its main downfall. However, the cinematography is great; and Viy has a very vibrant feel throughout. Black Sunday had a similar vibrant feel; and this film gives the viewer an idea of what Bava's film might have looked like in colour. The scenes that take place inside the church are the movie's main strongpoint, thus making it a shame that there aren't more of them. These scenes look great and brilliantly offset the gentle tone of the rest of the film. The climax delivers the best part of the movie, and the special effects there, while obviously cheap, look stunning and brilliantly suit the style of the film. Russia isn't very well known for its film industry, and this was one of the first horror films produced in the Soviet Union. Modern flick Night Watch has given the Russian film industry a new lease of life recently; and this film, like most other classics, is set for a remake. Oh well...I recommend Viy mainly to fans of art-house cinema.
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