Fresh to streaming services this past week is THE WIDOW, the Russian folklore horror by director Ivan Minin. The films box artwork features a horrifying creature plagued with spikes on its back, crouched over in an obviously painful position; it's enough to make anyone with some free time and an interest in supernatural horrors to want to rent it. I pretty much jumped right into the film after watching the trailer, thinking it looked good enough to spend five bucks on, and boy was I wrong; that's five bucks and an hour and a half I'll never get back unfortunately. Honestly, the story that the film is trying to tell - a local legend about a widowed woman who devours people in the forest - isn't at all that bad, it's even got some really creative bits her and there. But the execution is just a dreadfully slow, miserable, torturously boring attempt at bringing this folklore to life. For a movie whose runtime is online an hour and a half, the film felt like it was eight hours by the time the credits rolled; this isn't slow burn, it's just slow and boring. I'm usually one to try and find the positives of a horror flick and decide from there if the film is worth your time and money, but this time the answer is clear, stay far away from The Widow or you'll regret it.
Just north of St. Petersburg, Russia is a dense forest where, for the last three decades, locals have been disappearing without a trace; and the few bodies that do get recovered, are found naked with their clothes neatly folded just beside them. The Widow follows a team of rescue volunteers who go out into the woods to try and locate survivors and bodies alike, and to return them home as quickly and safely as possible. After going out into the woods - alongside a reporter who records all of the events that are about to unfold - the team locate a survivor who is barely clinging to life and they begin their mission to get her to the hospital quickly... that is, until they get lost in the forest and the horrors of the Widow becomes a reality for them. The legend says that the woman killed her own husband and when the townsfolk found out, they tied her up and tossed her into a black muck where they left her to die. She haunts those woods and demands a sacrifice to appease her... but will the emergency rescue crew make it out alive? Or will they meet their demise at the hands of the woman in the woods? Find out in... THE WIDOW!
The folklore to the film actually sounds pretty wicked, right?! Any time an evil old hag is possessing a forest is usually a pretty good time, but it's a swing and a miss when it comes to this film unfortunately. It feels like an hour and twenty minutes of the film is spent with these clueless and boring rescue team members (all of whom you don't build any sort of relationship or desire for; you almost hope they do die) and then the last ten minutes, you get to finally see something cool but honestly isn't even all that cool. It's definitely not enough of a reward for sitting through so much garbage dialogue and dreadful acting, that's for sure. It feels like the writers of the film had this really great basis for a folklore horror but when it came time to actually making a movie around it, they just didn't know what to do, so they just had these idiots wandering around the woods getting lost for an hour, repeating "spooky" things and acting weird. Normally I'm into really bad films that are so bad, they're good but this isn't one of those... this is just bad. And I really wish I could say that there is some sort of redeeming quality to the film to make it not a complete waste of everyone's time and money but honestly, that's all it is. It's another badly done Blair Witch knock-off with a backstory that had promise but overall just totally fails to deliver. I wish I was exaggerating when I said the film feels like it was eight hours long because of how boring it is, but I'm being totally truthful: it's excruciatingly snail-paced and the worst part is... is it doesn't go anywhere! Honestly, the most exciting part of the movie was noticing Oleg Chugunov in one of the scenes - because we just saw him a couple months ago in Baba Yaga. It is worth noting, however, how great some of the shots of the woods are; the property they filmed on looks absolutely stunning - it's just not enough to save this movie. Unfortunately, The Widow is a hard, hard pass for me and I think many horror audiences will agree. Skip this one.