Queen Of Spades a royal bummer

Director Podgayevsky deserves better material

QUEEN OF SPADES: THE DARK RITE (Svyatoslav Podgayevskiy). 93 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (Jul y15). See listing. Rating: NN

Queen Of Spades: The Dark Rite is a Russian riff on tried-and-true horror properties like Candyman and The Grudge – stories where ordinary people find themselves stalked by angry, vengeful spirits through no real fault of their own. 

Here, three teens convince young Anya (Alina Babak) to draw a door on a mirror and summon the legendary Queen Of Spades – you know, just for funsies. What follows is no fun at all, either for them or for the audience, as director Svyatoslav Podgayevsky rolls through an hour or so of false scares and bland drama involving Anya’s absent father (Igor Khrupinov) before a finale that inexplicably shifts gears into an Exorcist knock-off.

It’s all the more frustrating because Queen Of Spades is clearly the work of a proper filmmaker. The movie has a clean, crisp look intended to make its ancient horror feel like an invasion of its nondescript urban setting, and the glimpses we get of that supernatural threat are, if not actually frightening, at least disquieting. 

Maybe next time Podgayevsky will find a script that’s worthy of his technical skills. 

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