Baba Yaga: Terror Of The Dark Forest
It's been a little while, but we finally got a chance to check out one of my favorite types of horror movies: folklore horror! Folklore horror flicks always have a special place in my heart because of the connection to the "real world" they share, and they usually tell a pretty dark and sinister tale; such is the case with the new Russian film BABA YAGA: TERROR OF THE DARK FOREST! The film takes the Slavic folklore and brings it to life in this new, terrifying supernatural horror film that will not only keep you on your toes until the very end, but absolutely terrify the hell out of you during the entire ride. The Baba Yaga tale spans hundreds (if not thousands) of stories, but she essentially is a ferocious looking old hag who feeds on children. In Terror Of The Dark Forest, the film takes this a step further where once a child has been kidnapped and consumed by the woman, all memories (including their appearance in photographs) disappear into nothingness - it's almost as if the child never existed at all. The movie was directed by Svyatoslav Podgaevsky who made sure to not only tell a seriously dark and twisted story, but to make it look absolutely gorgeous at the same time. Honestly, I'd even go out on a limb and say that Terror of the Dark Forest has some of the most beautifully shot scenes out of all of the movies I've seen this year so far; it's that good. If you're like me and love a good horror based on some wicked folklore passed down through generations, you'll want to spend the hour and a half with the terrifying Baba Yaga.
The movie (which is in Russian but is dubbed in English, by the way) follows the story of Egor (Oleg Chugunov) and his small family as they move into the outskirts of a big city. Egor's mother passed away, but he now lives with his father, step mother and baby sister. There's definitely some tension between Egor and his stepmother Yuliya (Maryana Spivak), and things really take a dark turn when the family hires a nanny: Tatyana (Svetlana Ustinova). Egor immediately notices that something is off about the woman and sees her frightening behavior, but no one believes him - even the security cameras tell a different story than what he's experiencing. It all comes to a terrifying halt as both the nanny and his baby sister disappear, and his parents have no recollection of who the baby even is. The parents are both in a strange trance-like state, even to the point where Egor's father Alexey (Aleksey Rozin) wants to kill him. It becomes the responsibility of Egor - along with two other teens - to keep the memory of his sister alive and bring her back from the realm of the dead where the Baba Yaga has a grip on her, ready to feed. Will Egor be able to return his baby sister to her crib, or will the Baba Yaga consume her and destroy her existence once and for all? Find out in... BABA YAGA: TERROR OF THE DARK FOREST!
If you couldn't tell from the plot, this movie is really pretty dark. What I found cool is the film manages to really put this dark tone to all of its scenes as well, which really helps set the serious kind of tone it has. The film is, after all, about a woman kidnapping children and causing their families to forget they even existed. It definitely has its lighter moments, don't get me wrong, but there's a certain dark tone to it that you'll find yourself experiencing as the movie progresses. It's almost as if the viewer is placed in the same fog that Egor's parents seem to find themselves in; it's pretty great. Combine this with the great storytelling and the films sinister villain - the Baba Yaga - and Terror of the Dark Forest is a pretty horrifying little tale that would make for a great horror to show young horror fans. Whether you like jump scares, subtle spooks or just scary stories, Baba Yaga: Terror Of The Dark Forest has a little bit of it all (and not too much of one) to ensure that all types of horror viewers can walk away with something to enjoy. While Egor could be a little cringe at times, for the most part he's a good main character to follow. He's determined, outcasted, and brave - three characteristics that obviously make for a great battle against the darkness. Without giving too much away, once Egor really begins to pursue the Baba Yaga (who's back story is pretty fucking sick), he experiences some pretty horrifying and trippy stuff as he gets sucked into her world of darkness. These scenes are the ones that will really capture audiences and elevate the story to new, scary levels. If you enjoy folklore horror with some wicked scares, do yourself a favor and give Baba Yaga: Terror of the Dark Forest a rental!