Director, Scriptwriter: Ekaterina Grokhovskaia
Cast: Marina Golub, Andrei Kharitonov, Ol’ga Khokhlova, Sergei Krapiva, Irina Kupchenko, Elena Levkovich, Natal’ia Naumova, Roman Pakhomov, Natal’ia Rudova , Oleg Sukachenko
In the months before its release, fans anticipated that Katia Grokhovskaia’s Devil’s Flower would be the Russian answer to the Twilight saga. Looking at the two films’ promotional materials, which are almost identical, it is clear that Russian publicists hoped to capitalize on the enormous success of the American blockbuster. In reality, production for Devil’s Flower began well before the teen vampire epic, but because of various set-backs was not completed until 2010. However, comparisons are not entirely unwarranted; there are certainly similarities between the two enterprises. Like Twilight, Grokhovskaia’s film centers around a young woman swept into a supernatural world and forced to choose between an ordinary boy and an otherworldly lover. However, aside from some additional aesthetic similarities and a certain amount of wooden acting, the likeness ends there. Despite its beautiful young cast, moody cinematography and alternative rock soundtrack, Devil’s Flower did not attain box office success and was widely panned by critics and audiences alike.
The film tells the story of Polina, a college student with a 1970s sense of style and ethereal good looks. Polina is suffering from nightmares in which she stands before the gates of a dark castle confronting a huge glowing red flower. Wearing a white medieval gown and a look of faint consternation, Polina is drawn into the heart of the blossom by feathery tendrils.
Disturbed by this dream, she contacts her friend, Nastia. Fortuitously, Nastia has a strong interest in the occult and lives in an appropriately sinister and isolated cabin. Upon hearing about the strange dream, Nastia goes into a trance and discovers that there is a useful book located in a secret archive of the city library. This archive, full of unlabeled and seemingly un-catalogued books, might be the scariest part of the whole movie. Luckily Nastia was guided by otherworldly forces to a book with the image of the devil’s flower on its spine.
Meanwhile, in another part of town, some of Polina’s more mainstream friends are partying with the local polo team. Unsettled by her trip to the library, and haunted by the uneasy feeling that she is being watched, Polina decides to attend the party. There she meets chisel-jawed star of the polo team, Sasha. The excruciating nature of their interactions must be seen to be believed. Theirs is a relationship made up of few words, and each one is delivered with an astonishing paucity of feeling. Whatever the case, Polina and Sasha soon find themselves galloping on horses through lush fields and exchanging long glances in slow-motion.
Back in her sylvan retreat, Nastia has made progress with the mysterious book. She has translated a message from Latin, revealing that to him who tastes the flower, “the Forbidden Gates will be unlocked and he shall be embraced by the Abyss of Eternity.” With that cleared up, she further discovers that six pages of the book are blank. However, when she accidentally bleeds on one of the pages, an image appears. ...
Reviewed by Emily Hillhouse © 2011 in KinoKultura