A Special Forces unit on a mysterious mission commandeers a couple's cramped apartment.

A Special Forces unit on a mysterious mission commandeers a bickering couple’s cramped apartment in “Horror Which Is Always With You.” Defying expectations generated by its intimidating title, tightly structured pic delivers a diverting absurdist tragicomedy. In his sophomore effort, helmer Arkady Yakhnis displays a light touch that enables both verbal and visual humor to register in a pacey fashion. Although the vogue for this genre of Russian filmmaking may have peaked some years ago with Karen Shakhnazarov’s “City Zero,” item could still be fun for fest and tube programmers.

Mild-mannered intellectual Marxen (Yuri Nifontov), a university lecturer, and his sharp-tongued German-teacher wife Lera (Marina Ilyina), share a routine coexistence until the day four military commandos invade their home. Marxen complains to the police — and a psychiatrist — but gets no help evicting the intruders.

Colonel Zharov (Oleg Fomin) and his men stake out the adjacent apartment, hoping to trap a fugitive criminal. While they wait, they prove strangely polite and surprisingly accomplished in the domestic arts. They even enjoy a good sing-along.

Marxen starts to hero-worship the macho Zharov, even shaving his head and adopting military fatigues. Meanwhile, put-upon Lera turns to religion.

Well-cast according to body type, all the thesps evince a comic flair. Pic makes the most of its low budget by witty use of its few locations. Non-showy tech package underscores the Kafkaesque mood.

Horror Which Is Always With You

Russia

Production

A Stella Studios presentation. (International sales: Stella Studios, Moscow.) Produced by Feodor Popov. Co-producer, Ludmila Kukoba. Directed by Arkady Yakhnis. Written by Yuri Arabov.

Crew

Camera (color), Grigory Yablochnikov; editors, Nikolai Stepanov, Alexander Latsenko; music, Dmitry Kakhovsky; art director, Valery Arkhipov; sound (Dolby Digital), Gennady Sokolov. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (East of the West), July 4, 2007. (Also in Moscow Film Festival.) Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Yuri Nifontov, Marina Ilyina, Oleg Fomin, Arslan Murzabekov, Dmitry Prokofiev, Semyon Shteinberg.
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