Vampire Owl: This would be a nice name for a new vampire.
Vampire Bat: I am sure that vampires have so many nice names on the official list.
Vampire Owl: I am still confident that we can use one or two more.
Vampire Bat: Even in that case, there is no shortage of names.
Vampire Owl: You know that these names are too old and outdated.
Vampire Bat: There are no outdated names for immortals like us.
Vampire Owl: The world do change, even if vampires do not.
Vampire Bat: Well, we have changed. There are enough examples for the same within the castle itself.
Vampire Owl: Those are not really part of anything that we use.
Vampire Bat: They are all part of us now, even if you don’t realize the same yet.
[Gets a chocolate chake and three glasses of mango shake].
What is the movie about? :: Andrey (Semyon Serzin) wishes for a terrible memory to be erased from the mind of his wife, Olya (Marina Vasileva). For the same, he visits Mara (Aleksandra Revenko) who has some special herbs which could be good enough to do the job for him. Mara realizes that there was a terrible attempt at robbery at their home, and she provides them with some mushrooms which he uses in cake to make sure that she starts forgetting – Mara assures him that she will able to control how much she forgets. That night itself, Olya who was living separately after the incident returns to him. But she still doesn’t want to live with him in the same house where the incident took place, and as Mara had asked him to look after her house after she leaves for a few months, they move to her place which has so many herbs and antique items. She develops a liking for the new place immediately, and is happier than before.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Things seem to go smoother than before from outside. Olya seems to be enjoying her time at the new place, which is strange with its look, but has all the facilities that they need. One night, Andrey does have a dream though, and he sees a child as well as a horse in there, and Olya also sees a person in there, staring at them. Mara assures him that they are ghosts of the previous owners, and that the process does include some side effects, but there is nothing to worry about there, and things can only get better. But Olya begins to experience more, and it only keeps her wishing to get out of there. As a musician, she is not able to practice like she used to, with fear of something being around her. She has her own hallucinations that doesn’t help her at all. Soon, it seems that he is not able to get Mara on the phone again, but it is not all, as he finds out that there is no record of the place as of now, and nobody knows the woman whom he had met. Now he wonders if things are going completely out of control.
The defence of Mara :: There is enough of the feeling of mystery and horror in this particular movie which seems to build, and become stronger with a certain amount of weirdness that is continued to be maintained around here. The atmosphere that is maintained for the same is quite superior, and there are different world being created here, most of them unreal, and bringing a different feeling. It begins very well, providing the idea that we are soon moving to a world of dark fantasy. The film provides the feeling of a twisted fairy-tale which is more than what meets the eye, and the audience are left doubting about many things here. The grief, the melancholy that is present here also feels real, and the whole thing takes enough of deviation to bring the horror, which is less evident, and hidden for us to find. It uses the evil which is off the screen, and generates the fear out of something which is more of a mystery than the usual ghost story.
The claws of flaw :: Mara does have a great beginning, and we were always expecting to see more as it progresses, but there is not that much of terror being unleashed here. The usual quick scares are missing here, even though there were so many opportunities to bring the same, with a certain amount of mystery always present at different areas. It could have also had more of the history of the apartment rather than of the rest. It could have also used the mushrooms in a more terrifying manner rather than with those colours, as the opportunities were many. Being not the usual horror movie, this one could have brought the grandeur that the others would find difficult to bring – that kind of a premise is set in the beginning itself. Mara does miss out on some of such opportunities which were there to be taken, but we appreciate the fact that it could go divergent against all odds. After all, we all have different demons to meet on separate occasions, even though this can be somewhat confusing for regular horror lovers.
Performers of the soul :: Even though not the main character, and even without having that much of time on the screen, it is Aleksandra Revenko who catches our attention from the beginning scenes, and we don’t see much more of her until the end. There is a certain wickedness in her which is clearly visible in the later stages, but the same is also present in her in the beginning too, hidden in her movements. One would have still wanted to use her more in the final stages, in the form of the terrifying antagonist rather than anything else. Semyon Serzin plays a simple, very much confused character, who does some foolish things which come back to haunt him, and that is done fine. At the same time, Marina Vasileva is really good here, and she has blended into this character who goes through different troubles – the emotions are nicely reflected by her. The changes that she goes through are nicely portrayed here, and she also gets more to do by the end of the movie.
How it finishes :: Mara, also known as Side Effect and Pobochnyi Effect reminds us of other Russian horror films like Queen of Spades, Guests and Baba Yaga. The Russian horror movies do have something different in them, just like the science fiction coming from the same area like Coma, Superdeep, Sputnik and The Blackout. There is such grand making quality here. The film also serves as a morality tale, a reminder about how the past cannot be erased, and we can only make things better in the present, for living in past can mean eternal grief and a never ending feeling of melancholy. It is a film of well-made divergent overall, and the same serves as a good cinematic experience with its mystery running directly in the middle. We all need our horror films during the Corona virus pandemic, and this one adds as horror better than most of those flicks which keep repeating the same pattern again and again. After all, we are also having a remake of Ezra coming soon for Bollywood on Amazon Prime Video.
Release date: 5th November 2020
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Aleksey Kazakov
Starring: Semyon Serzin, Marina Vasileva, Aleksandra Revenko, Maria Abramova, Maria Karpova, Anatoliy Zhuravlyov, Stepan Devonin, Sergey Cherdantsev, Natalya Dedeyko, Nikita Tezov
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.