This film is an adaptation of well-known supernatural short story by Nikolai Gogol by the same name.
A group of seminary students are returning home for vacation and thee of them get lost on their way in the middle of the night. While looking for their way they come across a farmhouse. They find an old woman there and ask her to spend the night there. She accepts but only if they agree to sleep in separate areas. One of them (Khoma) lies down to rest and before he can sleep the old woman comes to him and tries to seduce him and fails. So she puts him under a spell and gets on top of him to ride him as a horse and starts flying. He realizes that she is a witch, breaks free and starts beating her to death. However the old witch turns into a beautiful young woman. This shocks Khoma and he runs back to the seminary. Once there the rector informs him that the daughter of a rich merchant is dying and has asked for him to pray for her soul. Seeing that he has no choice he accepts. On their way there he notices that they are returning to the house of the witch and right before they reach the house the young woman dies. He visits the body and realizes that she is in fact the witch and that he is responsible for her death.
The father of the girl promises Khoma a great reward if he keeps watch of her body for three nights. Khoma accepts and gets locked in the chapel and this is where things take a turn to the dark and obscure.
I first saw this film a few years ago with one of my roommates who is also a fan of obscure films. I remember that we really enjoyed it so I decided to rewatch it again. It starts off a bit slow and some people might not like it as much but be patient. Personally I loved every second of it. It has a certain charm and should be regarded as a classic. The scenery of rural Russia is beautiful. The shots of the villages are breathtaking. The music is surreal and beautiful which makes the atmosphere that much more creepy and intense. Personally the music was my favorite part of the film. The special effects can be corny at times but the funny thing is that they fit the style of the film perfectly. There is a decent camerawork as well. There are a lot of close up shots of people, spinning and much more that just make the film that much more surreal.
It is obviously not a film for everyone, not even a veteran horror fan but if you are a fan of cinema and strange films I guarantee that you will love it. It’s probably even weirder for people that grew up in non Slavic countries but I’ve grown up with films and shows like these (being Macedonian) so I am used to it.
There is also actually a follow up to this movie that came out in 2014 which was not as enjoyable but still pretty decent.
Final verdict: 8.5/10
You can check out the film for free on the official channel of the film studio: