In 2013 cinematographer Michael S. Ojeda made his feature debut as a director with AVENGED. A nasty, brutal and very effective mix of THE CROW and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Now he’s back with his second film THE RUSSIAN BRIDE which made its world premiere at Cinepocalypse 2018. Does it live up to expectations?
Nina (Oksana Orlan) is a single mother with lousy taste in men. Desperate to escape her life in Moscow she puts herself up on an online dating site. She catches the eye of reclusive billionaire Karl (Corbin Bernsen KISS KISS BANG BANG, HUNTING EVIL) who proposes without meeting her. Of course, she accepts and he brings her and her daughter Dasha (Kristina Pimenova) to his isolated mansion in the US.
However, shortly after the wedding things start to change. Karl has some hidden secrets, dark, nasty ones. His massive cocaine habit being the least of them. Things rapidly become worse until Nina is literally fighting for her and Dasha’s lives.
THE RUSSIAN BRIDE moves at a much slower pace than its predecessor, things don’t start getting odd until near the thirty-minute mark and it’s close to an hour before it fully gets into gear. The last half hour certainly delivers a grim, blood-soaked payoff. However, it’s a bit too late and stretches credibility to the breaking point.
The motive for everything, once it’s revealed, is a bit different from usual which is a nice surprise. The sheer amount of illogical behavior going on along the way though diminishes its impact. Also, the film’s supernatural angle really feels at odds with the main plot line. It seems more a cheat to make a couple of scenes work than a legitimate plot element.
Jim Orr’s cinematography deserves a mention. He makes great use of the sprawling estate this was filmed on. There are some absolutely beautiful shots that work in contrast to what’s going on. There’s also some distinctly creepy and claustrophobic footage as well, sometimes in the same rooms and locations.
Despite some good moments, THE RUSSIAN BRIDE falls short of its potential. The final half hour may be worth the wait for some viewers, but it’s a dull road that leads there.
THE RUSSIAN BRIDE will be doing the festival circuit looking for distribution. You can keep updated via its Facebook page.