Friday, May 22, 2015


Directed by: Oleg Stepchenko.
Written by: Aleksander Karpov, Oleg Stepchenko, story by Nikolai Gogol.
Starring: Jason Flemyng, Andreay Smolyakov, Aleksey Chadov, and Charles Dance. 
Synopsis: When a cartographer goes on an expedition to map the obscure parts of Europe, he comes across a village full of otherworldly creatures. 

For horror purposes, there is always something so appealing about Eastern Europe in the medieval times. The harsh living conditions lent themselves to a lot of rather horrific folklore becoming the catalyst for many of the classic monsters we cherish today.

I have always said that a movie with various issues is always much more interesting and fun to watch than a boring movie. FORBIDDEN EMPIRE is a long-delayed loose adaptation of the 1835 folkloric tale, Viy by Nikolai Gogol. It originally was supposed to come out sometime in 2009 to coincide with the author's 200th birthday, it is finally coming out on VOD.  The movie follows a cartographer, Dzhonatan Grin (Flemyng) as he is tasked with mapping some of the most obscure and hidden places in Europe by the father of the woman he loves. While on this expedition, Grin stumbles upon a village that's seemingly cursed.

Just to be up front, this movie is one whose quality depends mostly on your expectations. The movie has many issues. To begin, the tone is inconsistent in some scenes it's trying to be a goofy PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN-esque supernatural adventure, and in others it seems to be a gothic CGI-filled horror movie. Neither of these tones match well because the tone changes happen without any transition. Nor does the movie achieve any of those tones particularly well when it decides on one. It's not that particularly scary and some of the stunts are just a little too fake.

For one, the movie's over-reliance in CGI that looked dated back in 2009, looks even worse now. Not only that, but as with most CGI, most scenes have a tendency of looking like video games and something and this movie is not exception. Plus, the CGI effects themselves look cheap and cartoony as hell.

This is all a shame because there are some cool concepts in this movie and I would love to see what would happen if this creative team had a sharper script and a higher FX budget or the ability to do some practical effects. There are many would-be iconic monsters like werewolves that can turns into fog or these insanely imaginative monsters that grow from the inside of the villagers. It's been days now and those images have still stuck in my head.

There really isn't much else to say about the movie. It's a shame that the movie has been in development for so long and it has so little to show for it. The folklore tale that it's based on is an interesting fable about fear and faith and with a better script it could've been something special. As it stands, FORBIDDEN EMPIRE is an interesting misfire of a movie that has some great creature designs and fun action scenes.

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