4-1 | Table of Con­tents | http://​dx​.doi​.org/10.17742/IMAGE.scandal.4-1.6 | Isaka­va PDF

The paper looks into recent Russ­ian hor­ror films, explor­ing how the genre con­ven­tions asso­ci­at­ed with Hol­ly­wood are trans­formed and upheld in Russ­ian cin­e­ma. The paper argues that the use of space, par­tic­u­lar­ly urban venues, in hor­ror films estab­lish­es a sense of authen­tic­i­ty and marks oth­er­wise deriv­a­tive gener­ic pro­duc­tions as unique­ly Russ­ian. The films exam­ined are Night and Day Watch duol­o­gy (2004, 2006), Track­man (2007) and Dead Daugh­ters (2007); all are set in con­tem­po­rary Moscow.

Cet arti­cle est une inves­ti­ga­tion des récents films d’horreur qui cherche mon­tr­er la façon selon laque­lle les con­ven­tions hol­ly­woo­d­i­ennes ont été à la fois trans­for­mées et main­tenues dans le ciné­ma russe. On y pro­pose que l’emploi de l’espace (surtout les lieus urbains) dans les films d’horreur établit une authen­tic­ité et con­fère à pro­duc­tions autrement con­sid­érées génériques et non orig­i­nale son car­ac­tère spé­ci­fique­ment russ­es. Les films étudiés sont les deux « Night and Day Watch » (2004, 2006), « Track­man » (2007), et « Dead Daugh­ters » (2007) : tous ont été tournés dans le Moscou  contemporain.

Vol­ha Isaka­va | Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa

In Search of Authenticity:
Time and Space in Russian Horror Film

In this paper, I will look at the rep­re­sen­ta­tions of time and space in recent Russ­ian hor­ror films, inves­ti­gat­ing the cor­re­la­tion between hor­ror genre con­ven­tions, import­ed via Hol­ly­wood films, and what I see as an attempt to "mod­i­fy" them to suit unique local sen­si­bil­i­ties and cre­ate an authen­tic pop­u­lar Russ­ian prod­uct. The paper argues that one of the most sig­nif­i­cant aspects of under­stand­ing Russ­ian hor­ror is its depen­den­cy on gener­ic con­ven­tions that are asso­ci­at­ed with Hol­ly­wood gen­res. The Russ­ian cin­e­ma indus­try, like many oth­er nation­al film indus­tries, is posi­tioned vis-a-vis "Hol­ly­wood hege­mo­ny" (Shohat & Stam 1994) in pop­u­lar cul­ture.  It com­petes with Hol­ly­wood films at the box office, and must appeal to an audi­ence whose tastes are shaped by Hol­ly­wood gen­res. At the same time, the domes­tic films need to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves from Hol­ly­wood or, sim­ply put, pro­vide a rea­son why an aver­age movie-goer should choose to watch a Russ­ian hor­ror film as opposed to a North Amer­i­can hor­ror film. The repli­ca­tion of Hol­ly­wood genre tropes is, there­fore, couched in a cer­tain degree of reflex­iv­i­ty and self-aware­ness that com­pli­cates the effort to make a faith­ful copy of a Hol­ly­wood mod­el. I argue that the effort to show­case this dis­tinc­tion man­i­fests itself, among oth­er things, through the engage­ment of time and space. Draw­ing on analy­ses of sev­er­al recent hor­ror pro­duc­tions - Track­man, Dead Daugh­ters (both from 2007) and the fan­ta­sy-hor­ror duol­o­gy Night and Day Watch (2004 and 2006) - this paper explores how these hor­ror films re-imag­ine famil­iar cul­tur­al spaces and re-inter­pret recent Russ­ian his­to­ry in an attempt to "rus­si­fy" the for­eign genre for­mu­la. By focus­ing on the films' par­tic­u­lar appro­pri­a­tion of the Sovi­et past and the nos­tal­gia asso­ci­at­ed with it, I hope to demon­strate that the hor­ror films, despite their seem­ing­ly deriv­a­tive nature and low cul­tur­al sta­tus, show­case the ambiva­lence and com­plex­i­ty of the cur­rent cul­tur­al and polit­i­cal land­scape in Rus­sia, address­ing issues of mem­o­ry and iden­ti­ty, and engag­ing com­pet­ing his­tor­i­cal narratives.

The hor­ror genre has a very lim­it­ed pres­ence in the his­to­ry of Russ­ian cin­e­ma. One exam­ple that stands out is the 1967 film Viy. The film is not strict­ly a hor­ror film. It is an adap­ta­tion of a nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry short sto­ry by Niko­lai Gogol that con­tains Goth­ic super­nat­ur­al ele­ments and is based on Ukrain­ian folk­lore. Being part of the Sovi­et state-con­trolled film indus­try, the film does not have many of the hor­ror genre’s usu­al attrac­tions, such as exces­sive vio­lence, shock­ing imagery, or sex­u­al­i­ty. These ele­ments, among oth­er con­ven­tions of the genre, would obvi­ous­ly not pass the cen­sors, and that fact very like­ly con­tributed to the absence of hor­ror in the Sovi­et tra­di­tion in gen­er­al. As Josephine Woll (2005) men­tions, hor­ror "…con­tra­dicts almost every major tenet of Marx­ist his­tor­i­cal mate­ri­al­ism, of Sovi­et doc­trine, and of social­ist real­ist dog­ma…" (344), mak­ing the genre an out­cast of Sovi­et film­mak­ing. This sit­u­a­tion changed as the Glas­nost reforms of the late-1980s lift­ed many of the cin­e­mat­ic taboos of the Sovi­et film indus­try and allowed an unprece­dent­ed expo­sure to all things West­ern, includ­ing hor­ror films. Includ­ed in the new­ly-acces­si­ble cin­e­mat­ic prod­ucts were var­i­ous B-list films, such as mar­tial arts movies, crime thrillers, exploita­tion films and pornog­ra­phy, and hor­ror films of all vari­eties (from cult clas­sics like Night­mare on Elm Street to obscure grind-house pro­duc­tions). They became acces­si­ble to the Russ­ian view­er chiefly via local "videosa­lons" and cable tele­vi­sion net­works that became wide­spread in the 1990s (Condee 2009). It is in the 1990s that we see the first Russ­ian attempts at the hor­ror genre. The Touch [Prikos­nove­nie] from 1992 dealt with the super­nat­ur­al, pro­vid­ing some inge­nious inno­va­tions, like the dead talk­ing from beyond the grave through a train-sta­tion PA sys­tem in lieu of spe­cial effects. The Vam­pire [Upyr'] from 1997 was more of an action thriller, in which vam­pires were a thin­ly veiled alle­go­ry for the ubiq­ui­tous 1990s gang­sters. The Snake Well [Zmeinyi istochnik], also from 1997, was the first Russ­ian slash­er hor­ror. Rather mild in both the gore and teenage sex­u­al­i­ty typ­i­cal of the genre, but high on sus­pense and mur­der mys­tery, it is undoubt­ed­ly indebt­ed to Hitchcock's Psy­cho.

Severe eco­nom­ic cri­sis dur­ing the 1990s facil­i­tat­ed the col­lapse of the pre­vi­ous­ly state-spon­sored and tight­ly con­trolled film indus­try, as it tried to nav­i­gate its way towards a mar­ket-based econ­o­my. The Russ­ian film indus­try almost came to a halt, and the num­ber of domes­tic pro­duc­tions decreased dra­mat­i­cal­ly.[1] Susan Larsen (2003) writes:

The rea­sons for the decline of the Russ­ian film indus­try are by now well known: the col­lapse of cen­tral­ized dis­tri­b­u­tion net­works; a flood of low-priced for­eign imports into the cin­e­ma, tele­vi­sion, and video mar­kets; the dilap­i­dat­ed con­di­tion and out­dat­ed equip­ment of Sovi­et-era cin­e­mas; wide­spread video pira­cy; the much-maligned "dark­ness" (cher­nukha) of so many con­tem­po­rary films; and the eco­nom­ic crises that dec­i­mat­ed gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies for the film indus­try and made cin­e­ma tick­ets a lux­u­ry for the few rather than enter­tain­ment for the mass­es (491).

Con­se­quent­ly, 1990s hor­ror did not thrive due to bud­get prob­lems, out­dat­ed tech­nol­o­gy inher­it­ed from Sovi­et times, and the absence of gener­ic tra­di­tion and its tar­get audi­ence. The 1990s hor­ror films, which were few to begin with, were for­got­ten and seem to have had lit­tle to no impact on the devel­op­ment of the con­tem­po­rary (2000 and onward) hor­ror genre in Rus­sia, which became increas­ing­ly exposed to and depen­dent on Hol­ly­wood hor­ror mod­els.  Domes­ti­cal­ly pro­duced hor­ror still remains on the mar­gins of the main­stream in Rus­sia. And, indeed, to my knowl­edge, only about five or sev­en hor­ror films were pro­duced by Russ­ian stu­dios in the past five years. Sim­i­lar to the Sovi­et era, when the hor­ror genre was large­ly absent from the screen, but might resur­face through ele­ments of hor­ror in the sci-fi genre, or in lit­er­ary adap­ta­tion with folk­lore over­tones, such as Viy, in con­tem­po­rary Russ­ian cin­e­ma sev­er­al fan­ta­sy and sci-fi films employ the con­ven­tions of hor­ror. The most promi­nent exam­ples of such genre-bend­ing are the block­busters Night and Day Watch from 2004 and 2006, respec­tive­ly. In addi­tion to main­stream hor­ror, an avant-garde “necro­re­al­ism” film move­ment that exper­i­ments with hor­ror con­ven­tions gained promi­nence after the fall of the Sovi­et Union. There are also sev­er­al low-bud­get films by ama­teur direc­tors that so far have not har­nessed the suc­cess of The Blair Witch Project.

In this paper, I will look only at the main­stream pro­duc­tions that aim to posi­tion them­selves as part of pop­u­lar cul­ture, a Russ­ian take on what is seen in Rus­sia as a typ­i­cal­ly West­ern (and most­ly Hol­ly­wood) genre. My main field of inquiry lies in the domain of genre appro­pri­a­tion. I will exam­ine films that con­scious­ly con­sid­er and sell them­selves as hor­ror, hop­ing to enter­tain and attract audi­ences and fill the hor­ror niche in the Russ­ian cin­e­mat­ic land­scape. In con­trast to the eco­nom­i­cal­ly and social­ly tur­bu­lent 1990s, Russ­ian nation­al cin­e­ma has expe­ri­enced a revival since the ear­ly 2000s as the econ­o­my has improved and audi­ences start­ed show­ing inter­est in going to the movies again. Today, Rus­sia has the fifth largest cin­e­ma mar­ket in the world with pop­u­lar domes­tic films often dom­i­nat­ing the box office, even if Hol­ly­wood pro­duc­tions still out­pace and out­sell Russ­ian films (Beumers 2009). In the sphere of pop­u­lar cul­ture, I think, Russ­ian main­stream cin­e­ma faces a dilem­ma that is par­tic­u­lar­ly acute in an unex­plored genre like hor­ror: how to pro­duce a pop­u­lar film with a nation­al sen­si­bil­i­ty, or a film that main­tains con­ven­tion­al genre thrills and has a spe­cif­ic appeal to a Russ­ian audi­ence.  In short, how does one go about mak­ing a "Russ­ian horror"?

The first part of the "Russ­ian hor­ror" equa­tion is its "Rus­sian­ness." It has been argued in schol­ar­ship that the "Rus­sian­ness" of film could be inti­mate­ly con­nect­ed with the (re)vision of his­to­ry as one of the pri­ma­ry con­cerns in con­tem­po­rary Russ­ian cin­e­ma. Susan Larsen (2003) writes that cinema's nation­al appeal explores "what it means to be Russ­ian.., engaged – more or less explic­it­ly – with the rela­tion­ship between con­tem­po­rary Russ­ian life and the cul­tur­al tra­di­tions of the Sovi­et and pre-rev­o­lu­tion­ary past" (493). The recon­fig­u­ra­tion and recon­struc­tion of his­to­ry in an attempt to cre­ate a lin­ear com­pre­hen­sive nar­ra­tive instead of a patch­work of frag­ments or series of rup­tures is of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance. If we accept Paul Ricoeur's argu­ment in Time and Nar­ra­tive (1990) that under­stand­ing his­to­ry is embed­ded in sto­ry-telling, one can see the impor­tance of the nego­ti­a­tion of var­i­ous his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives that com­pete with and coun­ter­act each oth­er in post-Sovi­et space. Pop­u­lar cul­ture, and cin­e­ma in par­tic­u­lar, is part of these nego­ti­a­tions. The Sovi­et nar­ra­tive of his­to­ry vil­i­fied the pre-rev­o­lu­tion­ary past and glo­ri­fied the Sovi­et present. How­ev­er, it was fol­lowed by the crit­i­cal Glas­nost nar­ra­tives of the 1980s and 1990s, which exposed the Sovi­et vision of his­to­ry as a mon­strous lie, cre­at­ing a trau­mat­ic rup­ture sym­bol­i­cal­ly embed­ded in the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union. It is often argued that the con­tem­po­rary regime of "vel­vet restora­tion" (a des­ig­na­tion coined by Lev Rubin­shtein) head­ed by Vladimir Putin appeals to Sovi­et nos­tal­gia, pro­mot­ing the val­ues of sta­bil­i­ty and nation­al­ism embed­ded in the past, par­tic­u­lar­ly the Sovi­et one (Lipovet­sky 2004). Or, in oth­er words, it aims at recon­struct­ing the his­toric con­ti­nu­ity and plau­si­bil­i­ty of the his­toric nar­ra­tive, very like­ly with the polit­i­cal goal of ensur­ing the regime's preser­va­tion. While to present a polit­i­cal read­ing of Russ­ian pop­u­lar cul­ture here is out­side my scope, I am inter­est­ed in how pop­u­lar cin­e­ma engages these diverse nar­ra­tiviza­tions of his­to­ry to cre­ate a prod­uct that appeals to the sense of nation­al identity.

The sec­ond part of the "Russ­ian hor­ror" equa­tion is undoubt­ed­ly "hor­ror." Today's gen­er­a­tion of Russ­ian movie­go­ers has ideas about hor­ror genre con­ven­tions that are attached almost exclu­sive­ly to the Hol­ly­wood cin­e­mat­ic "lin­gua fran­ca," to bor­row David Bordwell's term (2006). Fur­ther­more, while Sovi­et cin­e­ma had a strong tra­di­tion in com­e­dy, satire, and dra­ma, hor­ror presents a promi­nent case of a "bor­rowed" genre and, there­fore, a more explic­it exam­ple of nego­ti­a­tions in Russ­ian pop­u­lar cul­ture between nation­al authen­tic­i­ty and gener­ic com­plic­i­ty. I argue that the con­struc­tion of space and his­to­ry in main­stream hor­ror both show­cas­es the for­mu­la­ic approach to genre and pro­vides a unique engage­ment with his­to­ry and iden­ti­ty that pre­oc­cu­pies Russ­ian cin­e­ma as a nation­al cin­e­ma today.

Hollywood, Here We Come

Most of the hor­ror films I have seen con­scious­ly engage Hol­ly­wood genre for­mu­las and are very aware of their for­eign­ness, some­times play­ful­ly appro­pri­at­ing this exoti­cism. When the Russ­ian block­buster fan­ta­sy duol­o­gy Night and Day Watch quotes The Matrix, X-Men, Lord of the Rings and a legion of oth­er Hol­ly­wood films, the exu­ber­ance of this ges­ture pro­duces a cer­tain pride in the hybrid­i­ty of the moment – as if its "Rus­sian­ness" is achieved through exces­sive and defi­ant "in-your-face" for­eign­ness. Night Watch [Nochnoi dozor], direct­ed by Timur Bek­mam­be­tov, released in 2004, became an instant hit in Rus­sia and one of the most finan­cial­ly suc­cess­ful Russ­ian films of recent years, sur­passed only by its sequel, Day Watch [Dnevnoi dozor] in 2006. Both films belong to the fan­ta­sy genre with a strong streak of hor­ror, telling the sto­ry of the "oth­ers" – a spe­cial race of super-humans that is immor­tal and lives on human blood. Some of them, how­ev­er, are “good guys” and are called the “night watch,” and some are “bad guys,” called the “day watch.” They each keep an eye on each oth­er, so that no side abus­es its pow­er over humans. Night Watch nar­rates a father-and-son redemp­tion sto­ry. In the end the near apoc­a­lypse is avert­ed, the world is saved, and the pro­tag­o­nist finds both redemp­tion and true love.

Despite the fact that the sto­ry is based on a series of best-sell­ing Russ­ian nov­els by Sergei Luk'ianenko, both films main­tain a very dis­tinct visu­al appeal based on fast-paced spe­cial effects and effec­tive cin­e­mat­ic allu­sions. Night Watch, for exam­ple, explic­it­ly alludes to the Matrix, fash­ion­ing the pro­tag­o­nist after Neo, and sport­ing a sim­i­lar video-game style fast-pace edit­ing and cin­e­matog­ra­phy. Fur­ther­more, the "oth­ers" of the two films pos­sess super­pow­ers, those unique gifts drawn from the com­ic book tra­di­tion of super­heroes. They are also wiz­ards, belong­ing to a fan­tas­tic and archa­ic world order, and deca­dent goth­ic urban vam­pires - all at the same time. The Watch movies seem to almost engage in a Social­ist com­pe­ti­tion – the Russ­ian block­buster movie has to be big­ger and bet­ter than Hollywood’s. There is a sly sin­cer­i­ty to such an endeav­our. On the one hand, the desire to appro­pri­ate Hol­ly­wood and make us aware of the well-known effects, images and stunts is a self-aggran­diz­ing effort, pre­sent­ed as a con­tin­u­ous stream of visu­al­ly aggres­sive sequences that bar­rage the view­er with allu­sions. On the oth­er hand, an over­whelm­ing lev­el of quo­ta­tions, with the occa­sion­al bit of irony and humour detach­es the nar­ra­tive from strict imi­ta­tion, sug­gest­ing instead a play­ful appro­pri­a­tion. Thus, sev­er­al ref­er­ences to Matrix trans­form into a humor­ous depic­tion of a Russ­ian cul­tur­al com­ic trope – hang-over. The pro­tag­o­nist wears dark shades, not to emanate ulti­mate cool­ness as Neo does, but to con­ceal the effects of his heavy drink­ing. In short, sin­cer­i­ty and irony, allu­sion and its decon­struc­tion, com­bine and arm the Watch films with a nov­el­ty and recog­ni­tion that often catch­es the view­er by surprise.

In anoth­er recent hor­ror film enti­tled Track­man [Putevoi obkhod­chik] from 2007, direct­ed by Igor Shavlak, the pow­er of allu­sion pro­vides a path for self-efface­ment in the film. Even in the posters and pro­mo­tions, one can see that Track­man unam­bigu­ous­ly points to the mul­ti­tude of oth­er hor­ror films that employ the masked ser­i­al-killer trope (exam­ples include Texas Chain­saw Mas­sacre and Hal­loween). Sim­i­lar poster strate­gies are present in the Watch fran­chise (see fig. 1) Track­man is espe­cial­ly close to George Mihalka's Cana­di­an slash­er film My Bloody Valen­tine (1981), which was recent­ly remade. Just like Track­man, Valen­tine deals with a mani­ac from down below (min­er in Valen­tine, subway/sewer mon­ster in Track­man) wield­ing a pick axe, wear­ing a sim­i­lar mask and depriv­ing his vic­tims of spe­cif­ic body parts. In addi­tion to the masked killer hor­ror films allu­sions, Track­man also starts with a children’s song rem­i­nis­cent of the Night­mare on Elm Street hor­ror series. Track­man fol­lows a gang of bank rob­bers who plot their mis­deeds at McDonald’s (a mark­er for West­ern pop cul­ture) and then, after a botched rob­bery job, go into an aban­doned part of the Moscow metro sys­tem with two female hostages. The hostages are pen­cil-skirt wear­ing bank­ing assis­tants, a strong and com­pas­sion­ate blonde and a com­plain­ing brunette – just like in My Bloody Valen­tine. The blonde per­ish­es in a shoot­ing acci­dent and is avenged by the Track­man, who devel­ops an attach­ment to her sim­i­lar to the famous sto­ry­line of King Kong. The brunette falls for the charm­ing gang leader and the two escape after fight­ing off Track­man, a mon­strous mani­ac, for­mer­ly a res­cue work­er at Cher­nobyl, who, for rea­sons unknown, col­lects the gouged eyes of his victims.

Sim­i­lar to Day and Night Watch, Track­man val­i­dates itself as a hor­ror-genre film by empha­siz­ing its sim­u­lacrum nature towards the Hol­ly­wood orig­i­nal in hopes of har­ness­ing pop­u­lar appeal. It is no exag­ger­a­tion to sug­gest, as did Ella Shohat and Robert Stam in Unthink­ing Euro­cen­trism (1994), that Hol­ly­wood cin­e­mat­ic hege­mo­ny in the nation­al cin­e­ma mar­kets could be viewed from the point of view of impe­ri­al­ism and colo­nial­ism as sites of col­o­niza­tion and resis­tance. This per­spec­tive allows one to look at the Russ­ian hor­ror films as seek­ing val­i­da­tion through mim­ic­ry of the "bet­ter," West­ern mod­el. This mim­ic­ry is not unprob­lem­at­ic.  As Homi Bhab­ha famous­ly sug­gest­ed, the wish to mim­ic the colo­nial "bet­ter" mod­el results in the "almost the same but not quite" bind for the col­o­nized. Bhab­ha (1994) notes that mim­ic­ry "…in order to be effec­tive… must con­tin­u­al­ly pro­duce its slip­page, its excess, its dif­fer­ence" (86). I sug­gest that, while repli­cat­ing hor­ror mod­els import­ed from Hol­ly­wood, Russ­ian hor­ror films could also be cre­at­ing a site of "slip­page" and dif­fer­ence that sub­verts the "colo­nial" con­ven­tion­al genre mod­el and engages local dis­course on iden­ti­ty, his­to­ry and belonging.

Hor­ror as the site of such dif­fer­ence and sub­ver­sion should not sur­prise us, as the hor­ror genre is his­tor­i­cal­ly known for chan­nelling the sub­ver­sive and the trans­gres­sive ele­ments of cul­tur­al dis­course through pop­u­lar cul­ture (see Robin Wood (1986), Adam Lowen­stein (2005) and oth­ers). The hor­ror genre has always been a bit of an enfant ter­ri­ble of main­stream Amer­i­can cin­e­ma. Hor­ror is often ana­lyzed as a reflec­tion of anx­i­eties, repressed desires and trau­mat­ic rup­tures of nation­al con­scious­ness or uncon­scious­ness. Robin Wood (1986) in his analy­sis of 1970s hor­ror films, states that hor­ror exper­i­ments with intense graph­ic vio­lence and shock­ing sex­u­al­i­ty, while main­tain­ing an “inco­her­ent” nar­ra­tive and unpol­ished, raw, low-bud­get look, as in The Texas Chain­saw Mas­sacre. The trans­gres­sive dis­course of hor­ror in the 1970s expos­es a cul­tur­al (name­ly cap­i­tal­ist, in Wood's opin­ion) veneer dis­guis­ing the abyss of the polit­i­cal­ly and social­ly repressed, recon­struct­ing the oth­er as a mon­ster and Amer­i­can life as hell or "…the sense of a civ­i­liza­tion con­demn­ing itself, through its pop­u­lar cul­ture… and ambiva­lent­ly cel­e­brat­ing the fact" (Wood 95). Hor­ror, in oth­er words, pro­duces a cer­tain excess and slip­page that allows one to engage in cul­tur­al analy­sis beyond the graph­ic and exploita­tive ele­ments of hor­ror enter­tain­ment. Sim­i­lar­ly, Russ­ian hor­ror films, by engag­ing Hol­ly­wood, also pro­duce a cer­tain exces­sive response, a sur­plus of mean­ing that reveals the dif­fer­ence and sub­ver­sion of mim­ic­ry more than it explic­it­ly intends to. I argue that the con­struc­tion of time and space in hor­ror films proves to be cru­cial in pro­duc­ing that difference.

Russia, There We Stay

The Russ­ian hor­ror genre is often con­tem­po­rary, with rec­og­niz­able urban land­scapes that in many cas­es belong to Russia’s cap­i­tal, Moscow. Sim­i­lar to the main­stream Amer­i­can hor­ror genre that is often con­sid­ered to tar­get the ado­les­cent male audi­ence, Russ­ian hor­ror film could be described as ori­ent­ed towards urban youth as well. Moscow becomes the space that exem­pli­fies con­tem­po­rary, youth­ful, urban Rus­sia. The Night and Day Watch duol­o­gy is one such exam­ple, mak­ing Moscow an effec­tive gener­ic coun­ter­part of cin­e­mat­ic New York or Lon­don, with spec­tac­u­lar apoc­a­lypse includ­ed. Track­man takes place in aban­doned Moscow sub­way tun­nels. The film I would like to con­sid­er now, Dead Daugh­ters [Mertvye docheri] from 2007, direct­ed by Pavel Rumi­nov, eschews the com­mon and eas­i­ly iden­ti­fi­able venues in the cap­i­tal and shifts the spa­tial focus to the Moscow sub­urbs. It is these famil­iar spaces, which are laden with cul­tur­al con­text and recog­ni­tion that become a bridge between the gener­ic mim­ic­ry and local sense of authenticity.

Dead Daugh­ters is a J-hor­ror [Japan­ese hor­ror], Russ­ian style. The deriv­a­tive nature of the sto­ry is trans­par­ent and its trans­paren­cy is play­ful­ly encour­aged by the film. The film makes enthu­si­as­tic nods to Ringu (Hideo Naka­ta, Japan 1998), albeit in its Amer­i­can incar­na­tion The Ring (Gore Verbin­sky 2002). Sim­i­lar to these films it builds its nar­ra­tive around guilt, sus­pense and fate – stag­ing a moral­i­ty play of spir­i­tu­al quest and a cri­tique of the shal­low young gen­er­a­tion. A curse is set in motion by the last per­son who sees the vic­tim of the venge­ful ghosts of lit­tle girls killed by their own moth­er. By chance the curse falls on a group of five friends, young Mus­covites with upper mid­dle-class jobs and well-to-do lifestyles, and we watch them fall vic­tims to the curse, until the "final girl"[2] assumes the iden­ti­ty of the dead moth­er and rules over the naughty dead chil­dren. The visu­als in the film aim to jus­ti­fy its art-house claim, wide­ly dis­cussed even before the release of the film in Russ­ian press. They fea­ture a lot of hand-held cam­era and long shots, often rely­ing on light and colour con­trasts. The "arti­ness" of the film, how­ev­er, is not what I would like to focus on, but rather the spaces that the film uses and what these spaces rep­re­sent in the con­text of Russ­ian horror.

Dead Daugh­ters is a pro­nounced urban hor­ror and it does an excel­lent job in turn­ing ubiq­ui­tous urban spots like cafes, bas­ket­ball courts and movie the­atres into uncan­ny spaces of super­nat­ur­al dan­ger. The device that turns a famil­iar space into a threat­en­ing one is espe­cial­ly suc­cess­ful in clas­sic slash­er films like Hal­loween or Night­mare on Elm Street, where the most inti­mate space, like a mid­dle-class fam­i­ly home, becomes the site of dead­ly car­nage. In the end the vic­tims in Dead Daugh­ters are also killed in famil­iar urban spaces – the children’s park, one’s own apart­ment, a bas­ket­ball court in the sub­urbs. The film makes these spaces look gener­ic by avoid­ing the obvi­ous tourist high­lights of Moscow, which is at once iden­ti­fi­able as the real city that the pro­tag­o­nists live in, but is pre­sent­ed as if it could be any city. The film’s spaces are sat­u­rat­ed with the every­day, show­cas­ing a cafe or a park­ing lot rather than spaces of cul­tur­al promi­nence in Moscow that have a long cin­e­mat­ic tra­di­tion. For exam­ple, every time the heroes recon­vene to dis­cuss their predica­ment they meet in var­i­ous cheap din­ers where they try to for­mu­late a plan, some­times observed by the cam­era as if from the out­side like the “nighthawks” from Edward Hopper’s paint­ing. The film suc­cess­ful­ly con­veys their increased sense of iso­la­tion and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty when the cam­era allies itself with the invis­i­ble ghosts. The char­ac­ters are not only watched by the venge­ful ghosts but also can no longer inte­grate ful­ly into the dai­ly activ­i­ties of the city, being con­stant­ly under the camera's gaze, iso­lat­ed and voyeuris­ti­cal­ly observed in their predicament.

The images that stub­born­ly reap­pear in the film and that are of par­tic­u­lar inter­est to me are the some­times long pan­ning shots and some­times still shots that appear as jump-cuts of the mul­ti-storeyed apart­ment blocks. The shots serve no nar­ra­tive func­tion, nei­ther are they point-of-view shots. Often they cre­ate a delib­er­ate spa­tial dis­ori­en­ta­tion. The view of the build­ing will be lim­it­ed to the rows of blank uni­form win­dows that seem to have no begin­ning or end as the con­tours of the build­ing; its top and bot­tom are exclud­ed from the frame (see fig. 2). This imagery has a long cul­tur­al and cin­e­mat­ic his­to­ry. The mas­sive blocks of apart­ment high-ris­es are called in Russ­ian novostroi­ki [new con­struc­tion sites], res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hoods or Sovi­et sub­urbs, removed from the city cen­tre both in pres­tige of liv­ing arrange­ments and in terms of acces­si­bil­i­ty to work and leisure. These sub­urbs are most typ­i­cal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the stag­na­tion era of the 1970s-1980s and the upward mobil­i­ty of the Sovi­et mid­dle class that starts as ear­ly as the late 1950s, man­i­fest­ed most apt­ly in the acqui­si­tion of a sep­a­rate apart­ment for an indi­vid­ual fam­i­ly (as opposed to com­mu­nal liv­ing). Apart­ments and the fam­i­ly mem­bers shar­ing them, exchang­ing them through divorces and mar­riages, the noto­ri­ous Sovi­et lack of space and result­ing mul­ti-gen­er­a­tional con­flict, became one of the cul­tur­al tropes of late Sovi­et cul­ture amply explored in lit­er­a­ture and film.[3] Built vir­tu­al­ly in every Sovi­et city, the novostroi­ki are cook­ie-cut­ter neigh­bour­hoods with iden­ti­cal pre­fab archi­tec­ture and struc­ture. An aver­age block includes a gro­cery store, a school, a day care, an inner yard with a play­ground, etc. As such, novostroi­ki rep­re­sent both the bour­geois con­for­mi­ty of a more con­sumer-ori­ent­ed lifestyle and oppres­sive Sovi­et uniformity.

In Sovi­et film­mak­ing the novostroi­ki were immor­tal­ized in the cult melo­dra­ma or dram­e­dy Irony of Fate [Ironi­ia sud'by] by Eldar Riazanov, from 1979, telling­ly made for Sovi­et tele­vi­sion for New Year's eve cel­e­bra­tions — a film that the res­i­dents of the Sovi­et sub­urbs might enjoy as they cel­e­brate in their own apart­ments watch­ing their own TVs. In that pop­u­lar film, the unfor­tu­nate same­ness of the Sovi­et hous­ing projects leads to a case of mis­tak­en iden­ti­ty (of the city) and an unex­pect­ed romance. The film gen­tly pokes fun at the unpre­ten­tious con­sumerism of the Sovi­et cit­i­zens who not only live in iden­ti­cal apart­ments but have iden­ti­cal fur­ni­ture and dish­ware. The film also makes an oblique point about the graver con­se­quences of total­iz­ing uni­for­mi­ty that starts with the house appli­ances and ends with street views and brain­washed minds. Dead Daugh­ters is far removed both from the Sovi­et con­text of the 1979 Irony of Fate and its melo­dra­ma genre. It nonethe­less employs the same cul­tur­al trope, draw­ing atten­tion to the unin­spir­ing novostroi­ki facades in almost iden­ti­cal shots (most like­ly a con­scious quote) and imply­ing the sim­i­lar cri­tique of con­for­mi­ty, uni­for­mi­ty and anonymi­ty. Only this time around these images of bour­geois con­formism and com­fort are pack­aged in the con­text of both the hor­ror genre and con­tem­po­rary Russ­ian mid­dle-class lifestyle.

The ubiq­ui­tous novostroi­ki are only a part of the film’s obses­sion with the cook­ie-cut­ter liv­ing spaces: we meet all the friends in the apart­ment, one of the friends sells an apart­ment with a mur­der­ous his­to­ry, anoth­er bar­ri­cades him­self in his apart­ment, the "final girl" faces the ghosts in her dark and bar­ren apart­ment that looks a lot like a the­atre stage by the time of the final show­down. The inter­change­abil­i­ty of pub­lic and pri­vate spaces, in which nei­ther is safe from the ghosts, hints at the merg­ing of pub­lic and pri­vate in the cul­ture of the Sovi­et Union and a cer­tain trans­paren­cy that is a nec­es­sary con­se­quence of uni­for­mi­ty. The 1979 Irony of Fate high­lights the com­plex­i­ty, opaque­ness and diver­si­ty of human inter­ac­tion as a coun­ter­point to the impos­ing con­di­tions of uni­for­mi­ty and social con­for­mi­ty, cre­at­ing a nuanced vision of soci­ety and human rela­tions. The con­clu­sions we can draw from Dead Daugh­ters, how­ev­er, are far more straight­for­ward: the new "bour­geoisie" of Rus­sia is as con­formist as the Sovi­et mid­dle class and its con­strict­ed hous­ing bliss. The super­nat­ur­al inter­ven­tion is sort of a divine pun­ish­ment for the banal and self-sat­is­fied lives of the pro­tag­o­nists. While it is easy to see how the con­clu­sions the film draws might be inter­pret­ed as an over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion, what inter­ests me is the choice of metaphors and con­nec­tions that the film makes.

The film sug­gests that both the old com­forts of the Sovi­et stag­na­tion era of the 1970s and the new com­forts of the 2000s, the Putin era, share a con­ti­nu­ity of val­ues and risks. The val­ues are the sta­bil­i­ty and abun­dance of con­sumer cul­ture of pros­per­i­ty, some­thing that is expe­ri­enced almost exclu­sive­ly by the post-Sovi­et gen­er­a­tion por­trayed in the film. The risks express the hid­den poten­tial of that sta­bil­i­ty to be fake, its oth­er side being total­i­tar­i­an oppres­sion. Today's con­sumerist lifestyle has a calm sur­face that could dan­ger­ous­ly erupt into the acci­den­tal chain of life-shat­ter­ing events, or into a hor­ror sto­ry. Space becomes a link that makes this con­nec­tion specif­i­cal­ly to a Russ­ian view­er. By inter­spers­ing the shots of novostroi­ki with­out appar­ent rela­tion to the nar­ra­tive or con­sis­tent visu­al style, the film cre­ates a metaphor that aims at both his­tor­i­cal con­ti­nu­ity and authen­tic “local” val­i­da­tion of the hor­ror film. At the same time the novostroi­ki sequences feel dis­joint­ed and removed from the sto­ry. The film's desire to cre­ate a prod­uct allied philo­soph­i­cal­ly and aes­thet­i­cal­ly with the tra­di­tion of art cin­e­ma man­i­fests itself most­ly via hand-held cam­era work, a cliche of the art house style. The film's dis­joint­ed sto­ry­telling, often aid­ed by the out-of-place images of novostroi­ki, dimin­ish­es its genre poten­tial, mak­ing Dead Daugh­ters an ambiva­lent film that in Rus­sia nev­er quite reached the crit­i­cal acclaim of the art house or the main­stream pop­u­lar­i­ty of genre cin­e­ma.[4] This ambiva­lence is sig­nif­i­cant as it show­cas­es the film's search for the cin­e­mat­ic solu­tion that would pro­duce "Russ­ian hor­ror," in which both the authen­tic Russ­ian com­po­nent and the gener­ic hor­ror com­po­nent appeal equal­ly to the audi­ence. In search of this elu­sive com­bi­na­tion the film re-vis­its his­to­ry, re-imag­ines pub­lic and pri­vate spaces and aligns itself with both a famil­iar and much-ven­er­at­ed tra­di­tion of art cin­e­ma (rep­re­sent­ed by Andrei Tarkovsky, Ser­go Paradzhanov or Alek­san­dr Sokurov) and the for­eign tra­di­tion of hor­ror genre.

The film Track­man does not have sim­i­lar art cin­e­ma ambi­tions. Track­man was financed by Fox Search­light and is more of a stan­dard slash­er hor­ror film with very lit­tle to dis­tin­guish it from any oth­er exam­ple of the genre done in the past few years in North Amer­i­ca (the recent remakes of Fri­day the Thir­teenth, Last House on the Left or I Spit on Your Grave are good exam­ples of this stream­lined and very for­mu­la­ic slash­er hor­ror). Track­man has fast-paced edit­ing, a haunt­ing sound­track and excel­lent visu­als - the film uses var­i­ous colour schemes that make the Moscow under­ground assume an entire palette rather than being sim­ply dark. The film takes no risks and is square­ly with­in genre con­ven­tions with a pre­dictable sto­ry­line and rea­son­ably sym­pa­thet­ic young pro­tag­o­nists. Where the films gets inter­est­ing is its use of space as the main attrac­tion and the force behind nar­ra­tive devel­op­ment. Shot in the vast Moscow metro sys­tem, the film takes advan­tage of its labyrinth-like spa­tial dimen­sions and its cul­tur­al clout. The Moscow metro has a long-stand­ing rep­u­ta­tion as the prize achieve­ment of the Sovi­ets in the Stal­in­ist era, a sym­bol of tech­nol­o­gy, progress and pow­er of the new Sovi­et state. The metro's lav­ish unique inte­ri­ors make it a prized tourist attrac­tion to this day. At the same time, the metro and its exten­sive net­work of tun­nels is a space of thriv­ing urban leg­ends, sto­ries of secret gov­ern­ment pas­sages, nuclear war shel­ters and buried trea­sures. A case in point is a sub­cul­ture of “dig­gers,” (dig­gery in Russ­ian) who engage in a kind of extreme sport explor­ing Moscow’s under­ground tun­nels, often in search of WWII arte­facts and oth­er secrets.

Track­man exploits this space, already rife with myths, by ensur­ing that a masked mutant mon­ster lurks deep under­ground. The spaces in the film rein­force this impres­sion by con­trast­ing the ini­tial rob­bery scene, filmed in a light, mod­ern build­ing made of glass, with the major­i­ty of the film shot in the actu­al under­ground, with a lack of light and sub­dued colours. The under­ground is pre­sent­ed not only as an unknown ter­ri­to­ry, where one might find unnamed dan­gers, but also as a space that com­bines the nat­ur­al and cul­tur­al mark­ers of an aban­doned civ­i­liza­tion (see fig. 3). Thus, the tun­nels that the char­ac­ters per­pet­u­al­ly wan­der have both promi­nent signs of decay and of nature, which has over­tak­en the civ­i­lized space. The under­ground is filled with aban­doned carts and tools, hang­ing wires, bare­ly func­tion­ing or bro­ken lamps. At the same time fog, drip­ping water, and rat infes­ta­tions come in at cru­cial moments to cre­ate sus­pense around the appear­ance of the mon­ster-Track­man and dis­ori­ent the char­ac­ters. Sim­i­lar­ly, Track­man him­self becomes the man­i­fes­ta­tion of this aban­doned civ­i­liza­tion par excel­lence. When we encounter him in his lair, it is filled with ran­dom tech­nol­o­gy, wires, tools and rem­nants of machin­ery. It looks like a lab­o­ra­to­ry, espe­cial­ly when we wit­ness Track­man method­i­cal­ly deal­ing with the eyes he gouged out. How­ev­er, all this tech­nol­o­gy is tan­gled up in a mean­ing­less way that cre­ates an impres­sion of the lair of the beast, a cave lined with signs of the bygone civ­i­liza­tion, whose mean­ing has been lost(see fig. 4).

What piqued my inter­est in Track­man was its pro­mo­tion slo­gan "old night­mares get new face." The "old­ness" of the Track­man nar­ra­tive goes back to an alleged urban leg­end that describes Track­man as a Cher­nobyl res­cue work­er who has gone mad after being poi­soned by radi­a­tion and was held pris­on­er under­ground by the gov­ern­ment until he escaped (or, rather, the gov­ern­ment, that of the Sovi­et Union, ceased to exist and left him to his own devices). The old night­mare of Cher­nobyl, in oth­er words, comes back to haunt con­tem­po­rary Rus­sia, a care­less pros­per­ous civ­i­liza­tion of sleek bank inte­ri­ors, mid­dle class pro­fes­sion­als and chival­ric rob­bers, all of which has for­got­ten what it is lit­er­al­ly built on top of. Track­man, the mon­ster, rep­re­sents the rup­ture between the past and the present, the aban­doned and for­sak­en lega­cy that is uncom­fort­able and dan­ger­ous. The space of the Sovi­et metro is par­tic­u­lar­ly suit­able for the con­fronta­tion with the for­sak­en past. In his analy­sis of the metro as the prized object of Stal­in­ist civ­i­liza­tion, Boris Groys (2003) writes:

If clas­si­cal utopi­anism, includ­ing avant-garde utopi­anism, want­ed to con­struct a heav­en on earth, then Stal­in­ist cul­ture con­struct­ed heav­en under­ground, that is, in mytho­log­i­cal terms, in hell… The con­quer­ing of hell simul­ta­ne­ous­ly implies the con­quer­ing of the past. Not only the liv­ing, but also the dead - who were ban­ished beneath the earth by the log­ic of his­tor­i­cal life - were to be admit­ted to the total­i­ty of Stal­in­ist cul­ture… Thus the Moscow metro sta­tions affirm the image of a nev­er-exis­tent, utopi­an, trans­formed, and saved past (117-118).

The ini­tial vision of the Moscow metro makes it the place of the Sovi­et utopi­an real­iza­tion of the pre­dictabil­i­ty of his­to­ry, its incon­tro­vert­ible march towards tri­umph of com­mu­nism. The con­tem­po­rary gaze of the hor­ror film lit­er­al­ly trans­forms the utopi­an tele­ol­o­gy into a dystopi­an rup­ture. The unaware char­ac­ters descend into the cir­cles of a real hell, not the tamed hell of the Sovi­et utopi­an metro project. It is also sig­nif­i­cant that Track­man extracts eyes from his vic­tims, as the abil­i­ty to see, or to wit­ness his­to­ry has been tak­en away from him and from the peo­ple who live on top of the for­sak­en civ­i­liza­tion. While being a visu­al­ly sleek and nar­ra­tive­ly con­ven­tion­al hor­ror film, Track­man chan­nels ambiva­lence about the Sovi­et past and the inter­pre­ta­tion of Russ­ian his­to­ry. While it is well doc­u­ment­ed by schol­ars (see Lipovet­sky or Lar­son for exam­ples) that Putin's "vel­vet restora­tion" taps into the Sovi­et nos­tal­gia, films like Track­man, being unpre­ten­tious cul­tur­al pro­duc­tions, alert us to col­lec­tive anx­i­eties asso­ci­at­ed with a nos­tal­gic vision of his­to­ry. The Moscow metro, a pin­na­cle of cul­tur­al con­quest of nature and sub­ju­ga­tion of his­tor­i­cal chaos into tele­o­log­i­cal order, designed as the sym­bol of the utopi­an gold­en era, in Track­man becomes a space built on blood and rife with per­il. It fore­warns about wil­ful blind­ness and the uneasy con­nec­tion, con­trary to what nos­tal­gia have us believe, between the past and the present.

An even more artic­u­late prob­lema­ti­za­tion of the Sovi­et past and the role of nos­tal­gia is evi­dent in Night and Day Watch duol­o­gy. Mikhail Ryk­lin (2006) asserts in the col­lec­tion Watch as a Symp­tom that the good and bad "oth­ers" are divid­ed in the film by polit­i­cal mark­ers. The "night watch" good guys are marked as Sovi­et: they dri­ve an old car with a Sovi­et logo; their orga­ni­za­tion is dis­guised as a gov­ern­ment agency with a typ­i­cal Sovi­et abbre­vi­a­tion. The bad vam­pires are marked as "new Rus­sians" - the gen­er­a­tion of Russ­ian nou­veau-rich­es that pros­pered in the late 1990s. The "day watch" oth­ers lead a deca­dent lux­u­ri­ous lifestyle, and indulge in the lat­est gad­gets and video games, unlike the mod­est "night watch" folk, whose equip­ment (mag­i­cal and oth­er­wise) looks like it was designed in the 1970s. The incor­po­ra­tion of Sovi­et nos­tal­gia into the films became the ground for Russ­ian crit­ics like Ryk­lin to link the Watch­es specif­i­cal­ly to Vladimir Putin's pres­i­den­cy and its pan­der­ing to Sovi­et nos­tal­gia for polit­i­cal gain. Mikhail Ryk­lin also comes to the inter­est­ing con­clu­sion that the "oth­ers," Sovi­et or nou­veau-rich­es, are dis­tanced from reg­u­lar humans, who become essen­tial­ly “food” for supe­ri­or beings of all moral ori­en­ta­tions, who are pre­oc­cu­pied most­ly with main­tain­ing the bal­ance of pow­er between them­selves. This is evi­dent when one looks at the space in the films - the Watch films’ world is not air-tight or sep­a­rat­ed from the real world, as could be the case in a more con­ven­tion­al fan­ta­sy. Instead, it is delib­er­ate­ly set in con­tem­po­rary Moscow, in which ordi­nary peo­ple appear only as pawns in the games of supe­ri­or crea­tures. Ryk­lin sees it as a metaphor of the grim polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in con­tem­po­rary Rus­sia, in which, he asserts, moral judge­ment has become relativized.

I agree with Ryk­lin that the Watch films exem­pli­fy the bal­anc­ing act between Hol­ly­wood thrill ride, nos­tal­gic ref­er­ence, and moral ambiva­lence. The films not only mark char­ac­ters and sit­u­a­tion as Sovi­et and post-Sovi­et, the dis­tinc­tions between Sovi­et and new Russ­ian are obvi­ous­ly there, but they are part of a larg­er nar­ra­tive that the films con­struct. The two films are a con­tin­u­ous nar­ra­tive, in which a "night watch" mem­ber Anton Gorodet­sky, the "Russ­ian Neo," (played by Kon­stan­tin Khaben­sky) makes a mis­take back in the ear­ly 1990s that comes back to haunt him a decade lat­er. By fix­ing that mis­take, he turns the nar­ra­tive around, going back in time and sav­ing the world. He is shown return­ing to the bright­ly lit, spring-like 1990s, while he hap­pi­ly strolls down a boule­vard and meets his roman­tic inter­est, long before they become aware of their dor­mant super­pow­ers and the bur­dens that they will bring. It is tru­ly a return to a state of inno­cence. Notably, the two rival lead­ers of the “day” and “night” watch sit right there play­ing chess, benev­o­lent­ly look­ing at the hero and his rever­sal of for­tune. It is also impor­tant to note that the hero has revert­ed to his human state by amend­ing the mis­take, mak­ing the strug­gle between the good-Sovi­et watch and the bad-new-Russ­ian watch irrel­e­vant. In oth­er words, I argue that the Watch films pro­mote con­ti­nu­ity and coheren­cy of the his­toric nar­ra­tive, rec­on­cil­ing the inno­cent nos­tal­gic past with what is per­ceived as the deca­dent and west­ern­ized cul­ture of today's Rus­sia. The naive ges­ture of turn­ing back time and fix­ing every­thing retroac­tive­ly is, in a sense, a long­ing for clo­sure. It pro­vides the mag­ic solu­tion that clos­es the breach in his­toric con­tin­gency. The Watch­es do not only appro­pri­ate Sovi­et nos­tal­gia, mak­ing sense of his­to­ry, but also con­tain the times of cri­sis and tran­si­tion, known in Rus­sia as the "wild 1990s," in a safe retroac­tive pack­age. The time of con­fu­sion acquires a lin­ear time­line, its dif­fi­cul­ties explained, despite being a peri­od rife with eco­nom­ic strug­gles and cri­sis of iden­ti­ty. Even if such appro­pri­a­tion cre­ates a fairy-tale vision, the impor­tant part is that these films pro­vide us with a vision of his­to­ry, and this nar­ra­tive of his­to­ry (unlike, per­haps, real his­to­ry) makes sense.

Pre­oc­cu­pa­tions with his­to­ry, along with the desire to con­form to the aes­thet­ics of Hol­ly­wood gen­res, inform recent Russ­ian hor­ror films. While hor­ror still holds only a mar­gin­al place in Russ­ian main­stream cul­ture, I believe it explores and exem­pli­fies the ten­sions that char­ac­ter­ize con­tem­po­rary pop­u­lar film­mak­ing in Rus­sia - the need to be authen­tic and the need to com­pete with Hol­ly­wood on its own turf, to cre­ate pop­u­lar film­mak­ing that is acces­si­ble to today's audi­ence. Con­sid­er­a­tions of time and space in the films play an impor­tant role in estab­lish­ing horror's bal­anc­ing act between nation­al sen­si­bil­i­ty and gener­ic plausibility.

Works Cited

Beumers, Bir­git. A His­to­ry of Russ­ian Cin­e­ma. Oxford: Berg Pub­lish­ers, 2009. Print.

Bhab­ha, Homi. "Of Mim­ic­ry and Man: the Ambiva­lence of Colo­nial Dis­course." The Loca­tion of Cul­ture. Lon­don: Rout­ledge, 1994. 85-92. Print.

Bor­d­well, David. The Way Hol­ly­wood Tells It. Los Ange­les: Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia Press, 2006. Print

Car­ol J. Clover. Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gen­der in Mod­ern Hor­ror Film. Prince­ton, NJ:   Prince­ton UP, 1993. Print.

Condee, Nan­cy. The Impe­r­i­al Trace. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.

Groys, Boris. "The Art of Total­i­ty." Land­scape of Stal­in­ism: The Art and Ide­ol­o­gy of Sovi­et Space, ed. by Evge­ny Dobrenko and Eric Neiman. Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton Press, 2003. 96-122. Print.

Larsen, Susan."National Iden­ti­ty, Cul­tur­al Author­i­ty, and the Post-Sovi­et Block­buster: Niki­ta Mikhalkov and Alek­sei Bal­a­banov." Slav­ic Review 62.3 (2003): 493-511. Print.

Lipovet­sky, Mark. “Post-Sots: Trans­for­ma­tions of Social­ist Real­ism in the Pop­u­lar Cul­ture of the Recent Peri­od.” The Slav­ic and East Euro­pean Jour­nal 48.3 (2004): 356-377. Print.

Lowen­stein, Adam. Shock­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tion: His­tor­i­cal Trau­ma, Nation­al Cin­e­ma, and the Mod­ern Hor­ror Film. New York: Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2005. Print.

Ricouer, Paul. Time and Nar­ra­tive. Vol­ume 1. Chica­go: Chica­go UP, 1990. Print.

Ryk­lin, Mikhail. "Hol­ly­wood Inside Out. Inter­view with Anna Al'chik" [Gol­livud naiz­nanku. Interv'iu s Annoi Al'chik]. Watch as a Symp­tom [Dozor kak simp­tom]. Saint Peters­burg: Seans, 2006. 36-49. Print.

Shohat, Ella and Stam, Robert. Unthink­ing Euro­cen­trism: Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and the Media. New York: Rout­ledge, 1994. Print.

Woll, Josephine. "Exor­cis­ing the Dev­il: Russ­ian Cin­e­ma and Hor­ror." Hor­ror Inter­na­tion­al, eds.Steven Jay Schnei­der and Tony Williams. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2005, 336-358. Print.

Wood, Robin. “The Amer­i­can Night­mare: Hor­ror in the 70s.” Hol­ly­wood from Viet­nam to Rea­gan. New York: Colum­bia UP, 1986. 70-94. Print.


Blair Witch Project. Dir. Myrick & Sanchez. Hax­an Films, 1999.

Day Watch [Dnevnoi dozor]. Dir. Timur Bek­mam­be­tov. Bazelevs Pro­duc­tions, 2006.

Dead Daugh­ters [Mertvye docheri]. Dir. Pavel Rumi­nov. Prak­ti­ka Pic­tures, 2007.

Fri­day the 13th. Dir. Sean Cun­ning­ham. Para­mount Pic­tures, 1980.

Hal­loween. Dir. John Car­pen­ter. Com­pass Inter­na­tion­al Pic­tures, 1978.

Irony of Fate or Enjoy Your Steam-Bath [Ironi­ia sud'by ili s legkim parom]. Dir. El'dar Riazanov. Moscow Film Stu­dio, 1979.

My Bloody Valen­tine. Dir. George Mihal­ka. Cana­di­an Film Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, 1981.

Night­mare on Elm Street. Dir. Wes Craven. New Line Cin­e­ma, 1984.

Night Watch [Nochnoi dozor]. Dir. Timur Bek­mam­be­tov. Bazelevs Pro­duc­tions, 2004.

Psy­cho. Dir. Alfred Hitch­cock. Sham­ley Pro­duc­tions, 1960.

Ringu. Dir. Hideo Naka­ta. Omega Projects, 1998.

Texas Chain­saw Mas­sacre. Dir. Tobe Hoop­er. Vor­tex, 1974.

The Matrix. Dir. Wachowsky Broth­ers. Warn­er Bros. Pic­tures, 1999.

The Ring. Dir. Gore Verbin­sky. Dream­works SKG, 2002.

The Snake Well [Zmeinyi istochnik]. Dir. Niko­lai Lebe­dev. Gorky Stu­dio, 1997.

The Touch [Prikos­nove­nie]. Dir. Albert Mkrtchan. Stu­dio Trans-F, 1992.

The Vam­pire [Upyr']. Dir. Sergei Vinokurov. Gorky Stu­dio, 1997.

Track­man [Putevoi obkhod­chik]. Dir. Igor Shavlak. Import­film, 2007.

Viy. Dir. Kon­stan­tin Ershov & Geor­gy Kropachev. Moscow Film Stu­dio, 1967.

[1] Susan Larsen (2003) men­tions that "…in the first post-Sovi­et decade, Russ­ian film­mak­ers have watched their domes­tic audi­ence, their inter­na­tion­al renown, and their cul­tur­al author­i­ty shrink and all but dis­ap­pear, as the annu­al pro­duc­tion of fea­ture films sank from an all-time high of 300 films in 1990 to a near all-time low of 28 in 1996, then rose again to hov­er between 30 and 50 per year between 1997 and 2000" (491).

[2] The "final girl" is a term coined by Car­ol Clover (1993) in ref­er­ence to the slash­er hor­ror trope of a last-stand­ing female survivor.

[3] Hous­ing pro­vid­ed a rich ground for explo­ration in both cen­sored Sovi­et lit­er­a­ture such as Our Cir­cle [Svoikrug](1979) by Liud­mi­la Petru­shevska­ia and pub­lished works, such as Yuri Trifonov’s Exchange [Obmen] (1969). The thorny issue of hous­ing is also sub­ject in many films of the Sovi­et and ear­ly post-Sovi­et era, rang­ing from innocu­ous melo­dra­mas like Sin­gles Are Grant­ed a Dor­mi­to­ry Room [Odi­nokim pre­dostavli­aet­sa obshchezhi­tie] (Samsonov1983) to the satir­i­cal The Foun­tain [Fontan] (Yuri Mamin 1989).

[4] See Russ­ian reviews of the film that stress (and often object to) the com­bi­na­tion of art cin­e­ma and main­stream con­ven­tions in the film. As in this review by Roman Kulanin for online jour­nal KinoKard (Feb­ru­ary 4, 2007): http://​www​.kinokadr​.ru/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​s​/​2​0​0​7​/​0​2​/​0​4​/​d​e​a​d​d​a​u​g​h​t​e​r​s​.​s​h​tml

This arti­cle is licensed under a  Cre­ative Com­mons 3.0 License although cer­tain works ref­er­enced here­in may be sep­a­rate­ly licensed, or the author has exer­cised their right to fair deal­ing under the Cana­di­an Copy­right Act.