As the old adage goes – if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. This statement applies particularly to the purchase of goods. If the deal you got was such a steal, there’s probably a reason why.
That’s the basic premise around director Oleg Assadulin’s ghostly Russian flick, Paranormal Drive (Marshrut Postroen).
Set in modern day Moscow, Andrey (Pavel Chinaryov) and his estranged wife Olga (Svetlana Ustinova) are set to embark on a getaway vacation with the idea that it would make or break their marriage. Before that, they need to acquire a new set of wheels. The two stumble on to a steal of a deal in the form of a BMW SUV. A deal so sweet, Andrey can’t resist the opportunity.
One problem though, the car is haunted – and not just in the sense that the lights flicker and the radio plays at random times (both happen, of course), but more in the sense of the car was used to stowaway the chopped up body parts of a murdered mother, and the deceased appears to be set on inflicting pain on anyone who inhabits that car. The backstory around the ghastly history of the car is explained in the opening sequence of the film, but Olga and Andrey have to find out the hard way over the course of the 85-minute picture. Even as weird shit starts going down, the couple is often too involved in their marital problems to pay much mind to anything, and thus the webs of evil begin to sow. Olga knows something is amiss, but her pill-popping and jealousy over Andrey’s extramarital affairs cloud her judgment. As her paranoid state worsens, those suspicions evolve into manifestations that begin to play mind games with the mentally fragile woman, ultimately leading her down a road of absolute psychosis.
For his part, Assadulin should be acknowledged for taking a unique take on the paranormal genre and making it come to life on film – especially given Russia’s bleak past when it comes to the horror genre – but the movie’s shortcoming far outweighed its successes in my opinion. While I’m no expert on Russian dialogue (this is very much a subtitle movie), the actors come across rather stiff throughout the film. It’s a reoccurring theme through Paranormal Drive’s entirety, really. Ustinova does a good job of portraying her character’s mental state and Chinaryov achieves in making the audience feel true disdain for his character, but the dialogue is very disconcerting at times and hard to get past.
And while the movie is visually stimulating – cinematographer Anton Zenkovich does a great job of capturing the scenery and colors of the Russian landscape and highway – the camera work leaves a lot to be desired. At times, the this element is very choppy – almost glitchy. And the use of slow-motion and pan-ins are a bit off-putting given the timing of their use.
In all, Paranormal Drive does deliver an interesting take on a genre that has been run through the mill over the years. While it is refreshing to a degree, its deficiencies overpower its accomplishments.
Paranormal Drive screened at the 2016 Night of Horror Film Festival.
Paranormal Drive [NOHFF Review]
When a Russian couple attempts to salvage their marriage with a weekend getaway, they get more than they bargain for when their new (to them) car turns out to be haunted with the ghost of a dismembered occupant.