Review: ‘Dead Daughters’

The "Asian extreme" effect has hit not just U.S. shores but -- as evidenced by Pavel Ruminov's hyperextended "Dead Daughters" -- Russian shores as well. Borrowing heavily from a grab-bag of "Grunges" and Kurosawas, as well as the jittery camera style of early "NYPD Blue" episodes, Ruminov's third feature posits apocalyptic prospects for Moscow and maybe the planet as vengeful sibling ghosts destroy the unrighteous. Pic's grimmer-than-grim tone and bone-rattling sound make the premise even more laughable than it already is, but haven't stopped word of an impending deal for a Yank remake following local release and haunts of fests' midnight slots.

The “Asian extreme” effect has hit not just U.S. shores but — as evidenced by Pavel Ruminov’s hyperextended “Dead Daughters” — Russian shores as well. Borrowing heavily from a grab-bag of “Grunges” and Kurosawas, as well as the jittery camera style of early “NYPD Blue” episodes, Ruminov’s third feature posits apocalyptic prospects for Moscow and maybe the planet as vengeful sibling ghosts destroy the unrighteous. Pic’s grimmer-than-grim tone and bone-rattling sound make the premise even more laughable than it already is, but haven’t stopped word of an impending deal for a Yank remake following local release and haunts of fests’ midnight slots.

First to learn of the three daughters — and the first to die — is Vera (Darya Charusha), who informs her pals that the sisters are loose and trying to get revenge for being drowned by their mother.

Pic doesn’t explain why the sisters’ attack has remained so obscure up to this point. However, the threat is due to expire in 72 hours if the target youths manage to stay out of trouble. The ghosts’ modus for choosing their target victims also is murky, as punishing the sinful could theoretically keep the ghosts awfully busy worldwide.

Pic attempts to be some kind of morality tale on the excesses of being young — Rita’s circle of friends bend over backward to do no harm, but do it anyway since their youthful selves just can’t help it — but themes are all but drowned in sheer filmmaking excess that wildly overplays its hand.

Soundtrack directs a non-stop aural assault, while pointlessly jittery camera work and desaturated color lensing reek of cliches, to the point that the third-act wave of violence is far less frightening than intended. Perfs are, to put it mildly, sweaty.

Dead Daughters

Russia

Production

A Central Partnership release (in Russia) of a Central Partnership/Praktika Pictures production. Produced by Rouben Dishdishian, Eduard Boyakov. Executive producers, Violetta Krechetova, Pavel Ruminov, Anton Tishakov. Directed, written, edited by Pavel Ruminov.

Crew

Camera (Technovision color, widescreen), Fedor Lyass; music, Ruminov, Aleksandr Ivanov, Trey Gunn, Aleksei Taruts; production designer, Ruminov; costume designer, Masha Lamzina; sound (Dolby Digital), Alexey Samodelko; sound designers, Aleksei Batayev, Arkadi Noskov; visual effects supervisor, Vladimir Leschinski; special effects supervisor, Ilya Churinov; casting, Anastasya Yenina. Reviewed at Los Angeles Film Festival, June 27, 2007. (Also in Cannes Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 125 MIN.

With

Ekaterina Sheglova, Artem Semankin, Nikita Emshanov, Mikhail Dementiev, Darya Charusha, Ravshana Kurkova, Mikhail Yefimov, Ivan Volkov, Yelena Morozova.
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