Visions of Suffering

"Weak"

Visions of Suffering Review


I can't recall at what point during my screening of Andrey Iskanov's Visions of Suffering that I decided I needed to sit down and close my eyes. I think it may have been the scene where the mush faced man attempts to pull a squirming black squid from his eye socket. But then again there were a thousand other such scenes in the film. The point is I needed to lie down for fear of toppling over in an epileptic fit. I don't have that sensation often. Usually it's when my blood sugar's low or when I'm really stressed out or if I've knocked myself in the nuts. It's even more unusual for me to have that sort of reaction to a film. Parts of The Blair Witch Project made me sick but that was just crappy camerawork. Most of Irreversible made me nauseous but that was the whole point of the film.

And maybe that's also the whole point of Visions of Suffering, too. To be honest, I was just trying not to lose consciousness.

Visions of Suffering is a good example of today's DIY horror cinema. It used to be that amateur horror film makers would make bargain-basement schlock with the hopes of it appearing at drive-ins on some regional double or triple bill. They'd save most of their measly budget for monster masks and clay and gallons of red paint. Today's cellar cineastes just spring for editing software and a few techno tracks. Visions of Suffering is a really low budget movie that would not be seeing the light of day if it weren't for the accessibility of CGI. And maybe it's got a certain charm 'cause it's from Eastern Russia.

The "story" revolves around a man with glasses (Alexander Shevchenko) who has really bad dreams of the aforementioned mush faced man wandering around a desolate swamp pawing at the black squid creatures that seem to be falling from the sky. When these monstrosities start appearing in his waking life, he begins to worry. He consults a knowledgeable priest (Andrey Iskanov), a creepy phone repairman (Victor Silkin) and the man with glasses' druggy girlfriend (Alexandra Batrumova) but these conversations are just sidelines -- the real cast here is made up of mutants, monsters, vampires and demons that appear willy-nilly through telephone lines, out windows, peepholes, etc. But it's not the story or the monsters of Visions of Suffering that made me feel faint. It's the fact that this movie is one of the biggest head trips I've ever pushed my way through.

If you take the final transformation sequence from Altered States (you know, the one redone in an A-Ha video) and spliced that into a Brothers Quay short film and overdubbed the whole thing with some cheesy techno circa '93 you'd have an excellent idea of what you'll experience while watching Visions of Suffering. If the swirling psychedelic visuals weren't enough, Iskanov chose to film the entire movie in macro. The camera is always peering out at looming figures from a crack in the wall or from inside a teacup or behind a light bulb. It's as if the film was shot by attaching a tiny camera to the back of a spider. Add on blue tinted chiaroscuro lighting and the effect is beyond disorienting. And yet at the same time it's maddeningly hypnotic. Did I mention Visions of Suffering is 120 minutes long?

If you've ever wondered what it must be like to be in the head of a schizophrenic with terrible eyesight and a thing for squids, then Visions of Suffering is the film for you. You also might appreciate it if you honestly feel as though you've seen "everything" already. But for the rest of us, well, just don't say I didn't warn you, and make sure you're lying down when you watch it.

Aka Angst.



Visions of Suffering

Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Tuesday 26th September 2006

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

IMDB: 5.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Andrey Iskanov

Producer: Andrey Iskanov

Starring: Alexandra Batrumova as The Girlfriend

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