“Evil Never Goes Away”
So says an ominous voiceover at the start of director Denis Sobolev’s In A Dark, Dark Room and over the course of the film you’ll see exactly what evil can do tempting both innocent and not so innocent folks in a small provincial town near the capital with their wildest dreams. Like Weird Science if the teens decided to go the witch route instead of Frankenstein, the new Ukrainian film from Sobolev is an interesting entry into the witchcraft genre.
Cut into four chapters that intersect occasionally and eventually culminate in a blood-soaked finale that’s as campy as it is chaotic, In A Dark, Dark Room starts with a few seemingly unconnected scenes until “Chapter 1” (“Teenyboppers”) starts with a focus on teen friends Petro (Ilia Visknivetsky), Volt (Artur Novikov), and Cat (Anton Sokol) having just learned of a terribly tragic death of a teacher at their school and feeling uneasy about the news.
Cue the first of many a time jump and we’re slightly in the past with Volt being humiliated in class by the teacher we just learned had met their untimely demise (Calling Volt a “Pubertal Jerk” even). While plotting revenge with his friends later, it’s obvious, according to Kot, that Volt can retaliate in only one of two ways: “Makotuk” (To hit someone with a baseball bat which is apparently a common practice at this school???) or “Ales Baben” (Basically forcing his teacher to perform oral sex). Well! Volt doesn’t hit women so the sexual assault it is! And when that doesn’t work, the boys come up with a plan to go to the local quarry where some prehistoric mammoth bones were discovered, steal them, and then sell them for money in order to bribe the teacher into silence. Yes, kids. These are brain surgeons we’re dealing with here. What they do find is an amulet which they decide to wish upon for some reason and, as a result, unleash witch Olenka (Iryna Kudashova) on their town.
That’s when the fun really begins. We meet witch hunter Gotlib (Rei Yeremii) in “Chapter 2” (“Witches”) and Olenka’s grandmother who’s also a witch while in “Chapter 3” (“Fathers And Sons”) the trials of the lady of Kot’s desire, 11th grader Tania (Ilona Arentieva), is explored and then “Chapter 4” (“Walpurgis Night”) brings it all to a bloody head. Also written by Sobolev, In A Dark, Dark Room is a joy to follow with secret relationships revealed as both the terror and some tantalizing behavior plays out on screen with Kudashova’s Olenka at the center of it all as an absolutely stunning trickster watching how all the bad decisions play out.
In A Dark, Dark Room was an “Official Selection” at this year’s Salem Horror Fest which has sadly gone into hibernation until 2024. But for more info on In A Dark, Dark Room and how you can see it for yourself, head here or here.