Writer: Aik Karapetian
Cast: Maxim Lazarev, Aris Rozentals, Anta Aizupe
Cert: 18 TBC
Running time: 70mins
The lowdown: Latvia enters the horror arena reportedly for the first time with this grim, austere psychological slasher. Writer and director Aik Karapetian fashions a dark story of economic payback when a recently laid-off worker takes revenge on his boss. But, as he begins to enjoy the high-life in his boss’ palatial home is he being watched as well? Striking and interesting if muddled entry into the psycho sub-genre.
The full verdict: Harbour worker Dan (Lazarev) is not pleased when a rich industrialist shuts down his dock, putting Dan and 200 others out of work.
Dan elects to pay the industrialist (Rozentals) and his young, trophy wife (Aizupe) a visit, with a vicious looking box of tools he swiftly puts to violent use. He then intends to enjoy the spoils of his victory, denied to him by class and ruthless economics.
Technically, Karapetian is a director of promise. He knows how to stage a suspense sequence, employing widescreen framing to maximum effect to show or hide exactly what he wants.
Through sparse dialogue, wintry locations and Lazarev’s raw performance, he conjures an atmosphere of dread and paranoia that finds no release in several graphic moments of murder.
Where Karapetian stumbles is in the story. As the film moves through its brisk 70 minute running time, it becomes clear Dan has been a psycho for a while, blunting the movie’s critique that his redundancy has sent him over the edge and leaving the movie without a single sympathetic character.
Scant psychological depth is permitted, although Karapetian demonstrates a skill for blurring fantasy and reality with numerous disorienting jump cuts that keeps what is occurring inside and outside Dan’s head ambiguous up to and beyond the closing credits.
This could have been Michael Haneke by way of John Carpenter. What remains is flawed, but it will be worthwhile seeing what Latvia’s second horror movie looks like.