Vampire Owl: The Russian movies do come back to us like never before.
Vampire Bat: Well, it took some time for me after watching Battleship Potemkin.
Vampire Owl: That was part of your syllabus, and it was a study rather than anything else.
Vampire Bat: Yes, but it was also one of those old silent-era movies which I liked.
Vampire Owl: We still have Abigail and The Iron Mask among the new ones.
Vampire Bat: Yes, I witness how things have changed so much now.
Vampire Owl: Well, the vampires do not change even as the world does.
Vampire Bat: We are not the products of the world well-known, but that of another world beyond human comprehension.
Vampire Owl: At least, this one is a horror movie, and so different from all the Russian movies which we have watched so far.
Vampire Bat: Well, I do have my willing suspension of disbelief ready and working well.
[Gets a blueberry cake and three cups of ginger tea].
What is the movie about? :: Olya (Angelina Strechina) and Artyom (Daniil Muravyev-Izotov) while traveling with their mother Tatiana (Violetta Davydovskaya) has an accident, as Tatiana losses her focus on the road because of the two children fighting on the backseat of the car, leading to the car crashing into a river off the bridge. Even though the river had recorded very low temperature during the time, Olya and Artyom do survive the crash, but the former doesn’t like the boy who is her step-brother, because she detests his father, her step-father too. Igor (Valeriy Pankov) takes the kids to a boarding school which had recently opened at a building which had been an abandoned mansion for a long time, dating back to nineteenth century and beyond. He is a teacher there, and also in charge of the welfare of the two children according to the advice of Tatiana’s second husband. The mansion is rather huge and isolated from the rest of the world, and it also has certain areas where the students are strictly prohibited from visiting.
So, what happens with the events here? :: There, Olya rejects the offer to share a room with her brother and chooses to do so with Alisa (Anastasia Talyzina), the supposed-to-be hottest girl in the school and Sonya (Alyona Shvidenkova), the girl who kept eating something or the other all the time. They do get along well, but Artyom doesn’t, and one day, he ventures out at night to the forbidden area, following a figure which seemed like his mother. As Olya, Alisa, Sonya and two of the boys also follow him, as they are lead to a closed door. As soon as they open it, Artyom runs in there, followed by the others, to find a strange chamber which had items from two centuries ago and also elements of some pseudo-science. They remember the ancient legends about Countess Obolenskaya a.k.a. the Queen of Spades (Claudia Boczar) who would grant them a wish, and then she would kill her. They all decide to make a wish, as they didn’t believe the legend.
And what is to follow further in this tale about the Queen of Spades? :: But things are not the same once they made the wish. One of the boys who accompanied them on the day, Kirill (Vladislav Konoplyov) finds his wish granted, much to his shock. His father’s girlfriend is brutally murdered, and after committing the murder, father commits suicide. He had wished for her to die a painful death, and is terrified. Sonya would be the next one to face the terror. But at the same time, Artyom manages to see his mother, and is addicted to the figure he sees in all reflections, whether it is on water or on the mirror. He soon gets a weird doll which the dead countess had. When the students looked in the internet at the original history behind the countess, they realize that she was someone who murdered nineteen children, orphans whose souls also becoming part of the house – she was coming up with some strange occult practices including the sacrifices of the children, and was murdered by the peasants blaming her as a witch. Now, will she come for them all?
The defence of Queen of Spades: Through the Looking Glass :: The atmosphere used by the movie is splendid, and the second only, may be to Crimson Peak, the grand Gothic spectacle from Guillermo del Toro – this one even has a stronger legend in the background too, with a Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory model in the background. We also have a mirror world in there, and we have a creepy one out there, which is very effective in providing another perfect atmosphere, even though there is the certainty of inspiration from other movies which released earlier in different forms while dealing with a similar idea or two. Angelina Strechina is a perfect addition to this horror movie, seemingly establishing her as a possible scream queen in the future. She has the skills to be a part of many more horror movies, and with a better English dubbing, she can do even better. The ending of the movie leaves scope for sequels to come later.
The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that Queen of Spades: Through the Looking Glass doesn’t use its wonderful atmosphere to its best advantage. The movie could have done even more with such a setting, as there was scope for more terror using the same. If you see whatever is happening around, and the power of the legend, you can hope for more. The kid is also pretty much irritating, and some of it might have to do with the English dubbing – there are moments of scare with which he is involved, but it never reaches the level of The Prodigy ot Orphan, at least as far as spooky children are involved. There are also similarities to movies like Mirrors and The Woman in Black which can come to the mind at times. There could have also been better support from the rest of the cast, and we can also see that the story isn’t told in a way by which it can rise above the creepiness within the movie, and it could have also added some more horrors which are not atmospheric.
How it finishes :: Queen of Spades: Through the Looking Glass is one of those Russian movies which you can watch to be taken into that atmosphere or mystery and horror which is there right from the moment when the students set their foot in the residential school set in an area far away from the towns and cities. Its effect might be reduced for people these days only by that understanding that being isolated is the best thing that can happen during the time of Corona Virus. Almost all the horror movies have that kind of a feeling now, with people wishing that they could be with the ghosts rather than with a virus. These days, the horror movies have been weakened beyond all means. It has been even reflected in the response to the usual horror movies like The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun and others, which could have had better reception and appreciation if release a long time ago. Queen of Spades: Through the Looking Glass also gives that feeling.
Release date: 13th August 2019
Running time: 83 minutes
Directed by: Aleksandr Domogarov Jr
Starring: Angelina Strechina, Daniil Muravyev-Izotov, Claudia Boczar, Valeriy Pankov, Vladislav Konoplyov, Vladimir Kanuhin, Anastasia Talyzina, Alyona Shvidenkova, Darya Belousova, Vladimir Koshevoy, Dmitriy Kulichkov, Tatyana Kuznetsova, Violetta Davydovskaya, Igor Yashanin, Yan Alabushev
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