Friday, October 21, 2011

Visions of Suffering – review

Director: Andrey Iskanov

Release date: 2006

Contains spoilers

I don’t know… I honestly don't...

Imagine me sat before a keyboard, my fingers poised over the keys thinking of what to say about this Russian movie and everything was a blank.

That it is about vampires (or a surreal variety thereof) is certain. What else… I don’t know. Iskanov takes us on a surreal, almost narrative-less journey through a psychedelic and disturbing landscape. Inflicting us with visions – as suggested by the title – but I am at a loss to try and explain what I saw. This should be embarrassing, I like to think myself fairly intelligent and able to divine the symbolism of many a film but this has left me blank. Not embarrassed, however, I challenge anyone to make sense of this.

a dream
Yet it is clear that the director had a vision, a story he was trying to tell. It begins in dreams. A man (Alexander Shevchenko) walks through a sepia, rain lashed landscape. We see a shrouded figure beating at a symbol or a drum of some sort. We see strange shapes in the trees – later revealed to be some form of parasitic creature – and they seem to be rapidly decaying, oozing globules of viscous fluid. The figure in the shroud turns angrily to the man. He awakens.

strange lunch
The man has nightmares whenever it rains, dreams that leave the smell of death in his nostrils. The phone rings and, when he answers it, it is dead. He goes to a surly neighbour and phones a repairman. As he waits, back in his flat, he pours muddy looking coffee and looks at a sandwich with a full fish in it – an ugly, nasty looking thing. Elsewhere in the city a priest (Andrey Iskanov) sleeps and suffers a nightmare, set in the same sepia world, he is threatened by a creature with a scythe. One of the parasites feeds off the creature.

the man
The repairman arrives. As he repairs the phone he asks if the man has nightmares. When he confirms that he does the repairman says that they are vampires. They are creatures who are given form by the rain and they fear nothing but publicity. He tells the man that if you listen on the phone you can hear them and if you hear too much they will come for you. When he leaves an alien figure (the best description I can give) appears in the rain and sucks the repairman's blood through his skin.

a watcher
The man listens on a line and hears voices, “mutilate him” he hears and “spill the blood”. Research by the priest tells us that these vampires are similar to Mara, causing nightmares and sitting on their victims' chests as they sleep – though in this case the vampires seem to take the men to another world; a dream realm, if you like. The man discovers that his flat is being watched by pale men wearing black, they try to kill him by pushing a knife through his door's spyhole, managing to wound his ear. There is some connection between the man and the priest through a girl, who might be the man’s girlfriend, is probably a whore (that the priest has bought the services of) and is certainly a drug user.

Other than that what can I tell you? Necrophilia, mentions of dhampir, gory death scenes, detaching brains, psychedelic effects and little narrative. I still am unsure what I watched or even whether I enjoyed it or not.

Score wise I am going to cheat but, before I do I will say that the vast majority of viewers are going to dislike this film and, should you have seen it and had a “Eureka” moment please leave a comment, with what it was about, below. ? out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

I was going to skip this one, but now I'm intrigued enough to put it on my short list!

I never know which movies I'll like. Sometimes I'll be disappointed by a revered classic and then a poorly regarded movie (by IMDB rating or Tomatometer at least) will become one of my favorites, as was the case with I Pass For Human and even more so Central Park Drifter.

By the way, have you read the Darkangel Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce? I've read the first one which is kind of a dark Beauty & the Beast and intend to read the other two soon. (My understanding is that most of the vampire content is in the first.)


Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Halek,

I Pass for Human is a great movie, I think/

I haven't read the Pierce trilogy as of yet.

If you do watch this be sure to let us know what you think

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of intriguing visuals here, but VOS is just too plotless and not engaging enough to justify its long running time.

I usually don't even try to interpret these kinds of movies, because a lot of the iconography is probably just freakiness for its own sake.

Even though its technically not cyberpunk, it has a lot of typical cyberpunk tropes like Men In Black, a paranoid loner in a dilapidated apartment, mysterious biomorphs, sexualized body horror, and bizarre torture devices. Stylistically, I'm most reminded of low budget surreal cyberpunk movies like Eraserhead, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, and Pi, even though it's not in the league of any of them.

Still, I have to give it credit for effort and for having some sequences that work. It would be perfect for soundlessly playing on a screen somewhere in a techno/goth nightclub of the kind featured in the movie. 4.5/10.


Taliesin_ttlg said...

So it wan't just me... I think plotless is an accurate description though I am convinced the director had an aim, he just didn't bring me (or, by the sounds of things,yourself) along with him.

cheers for the comment Halek :)