The Bride Review: A young bride-to-be finds herself fighting for her life after an introduction to the future in-laws unearths a deadly curse.
The Bride review by Steve Palace.
Weddings are a major industry these days, fuelled by a combination of commerce and cake. Glossy magazines, gushing emotions and happy, photogenic couples seem to be the norm for this branch of human relationships. However back in ancient times a wedding signified something darker and more ritualistic. This is the nifty concept at the centre of Svyatoslav Podgayevskiy’s horror tale.
Beginning with a prologue that’s part Gullermo del Toro, part Hammer Horror, we learn about the practice of painting eyes onto the closed lids of a corpse and the capturing of the soul in a photograph. From there things get grim, though to writer Podgayevskiy’s credit there’s also a dash of humour.
We then flash forward to the present day, where bride-to-be Nastya (Victoria Agalakova) is travelling to the country house of fiancé Vanya (Vyacheslav Chepurchenko) to meet his family before tying the knot. Encountering the austere Liza (Aleksandra Rebenok), Nastya soon becomes aware the clan is hiding a terrible secret, and uncovers a plan that has her at its blackened heart.
Attention-grabbing premise aside, it’s an otherwise-average affair. Having said that Podgayevskiy keeps you watching throughout, via a story that develops properly combined with a well-cast lead. Agalakova embodies the pretty, wide-eyed and child-like qualities of her character perfectly and this makes her ludicrous ordeal all the more convincing. While other films of this type lose the plot and descend into incoherence, the script succeeds in maintaining a monstrous momentum down to the last set piece.
Even though the yarn feels familiar, you’ll be kept guessing about matters till the big reveal. You’re not looking at originality by the bucket-load here. In fact there are the hidden passages, things jumping out of cupboards, weird photographic business and emphasis on virginity present in any other flick you’d care to name. Despite this, Podgayevskiy ploughs his own furrow in entertaining fashion. He makes good use of billowing white fabric, be it washing on the line or the decoration for the marriage ceremony, and the Bride itself is quite a scary and ably-realized creation.
An American remake has just been announced, which isn’t surprising – this wouldn’t look out of place on the roster of Blumhouse or other horror empires. What gives The Bride a bit of an edge is the sense of sustained terror that its competitors all too often abandon at the church.
The Bride review by Steve Palace, October 2017.
The Bride is currently playing as part of the Grimmfest programme.