Sunday, February 21, 2016

Short Film: The Cursed Days

Student film The Cursed Days was a 2014 project directed by Emilija Gašić and hails from Serbia and Montenegro. The opening intertitles tell us that when Serbia was torn between the Austro-Hungarian and the Otoman empires, the superstitions that held sway amongst the villagers led to the evolution of the legend of the vampire (and, just as importantly, of the word vampire that we now know so very well).

heterochromia iridum
The film itself focuses on one family. Father, Dusan (Vojin Cetkovic), and mother, Milica (Natasa Ninkovic), and their children Strahinja (Andrija Danicic), Stanika (Kristina Vuletic) and youngest son Vuk (Nemanja Pavlovic). As the film begins Dusan looks at a lamb that has died as Vuk is pretending to fight the cross-eyed demon and his sister suggests that the demon under his bed comes back every time he says something bad about her. Later we discover that, whilst she has a desire to run away Stanika can go nowhere, even her presence at a monastery was refused due to the fact that she has complete heterochromia iridum.

Vojin Cetkovic as Dusan
When Strahinja arrives home he is confronted about the lamb and he tells his father that all the cattle in the area have also died. They blame the new Turkish Aga. That night Dusan announces that the rebellion is going to start and at dawn he has decided he and Strahinja will join the peasants. As they go Dusan warns his family not to call for them or even say their names for ten days or they will return cursed.

Milica with her sons
Eventually Strahinja returns alone and later suggests that everyone else is dead – he only survived due to his cleverness. Eventually, however, Vuk asks after his father… The story then is reminiscent of the Family of the Vourdalak though in Tolstoy's tale there is a time limit on the person returning and if that is broken they may be vampire and in this it is the act of naming that bestows the curse.

carrying a stake
This was a little frustrating as there were elements I would like to have seen expanded upon. I liked the idea that Stanika was deemed cursed due to her eyes but that could have withstood more exploration and, before the men leave for war, we have the impression (due to a pov camera) of something watching her from a distance. Exploring that would have been good. On the other hand this is only a short, coming in at the 16 minute or so mark, and that leaves little time to explore all the rich ideas. Lore wise we get an idea that a stake might be useful, as we see one carried, and I liked the fact that a vampire’s form of attack was seen to be strangulation. Most of all I liked the fact that the film was set around the panics and used Serbian superstitions/folklore as its basis. The imdb page is here.

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