The fascination of being stranded in the vast Kazakh steppe gives way to moralistic and supernatural mumbo-jumbo in Akan Satayev’s disappointing second feature, “Strayed.” While the film holds interest for buyers and fest programmers as an unusual genre item from the rapidly developing Kazakh cinema wave, its initially involving conundrums surrounding the disappearance of a man’s wife and son lose much of their power as everything gets explained. Thriller and slight horror elements will boost sales in some territories, especially Asian and Euro outskirts.
A husband in a hurry (Andrey Merzlikin) takes his SUV on a shortcut off the main highway and gets his complaining wife (Alma Rulas) and fidgety son (Iljays Sadyrov) stuck in the middle of nowhere. When the engine suddenly fails, the wife unloads her wrath on hapless hubby (characters remain nameless throughout). After a nap, the husband finds his family missing, but begins to suspect that a surpassingly odd father-daughter pair (Tungyshbay Al-Tarazi, Aiganim Sadykova) at a nearby house may be behind the disappearance. Satayev’s visuals recall John Ford, but Timur Zhaksylykov’s scenario succumbs to explaining the inexplicable.