And so it comes to pass that one of the Surgeons of Horror’s favourite film festivals rears its beautifully ugly head to shed light on the dark and distrubed side of the celluloid screen.
Opening up the 2021 season of the Sydney Underground Film Festival is an Australian premiere from Kazakhstan that at face value can be poorly judged based on the opening 10 minutes. We’re painted a picture of a guy, Dastan (Daniar Alshinov) who seemingly is trapped in a loveless marriage, which he is forced to endure because of expecting their first child. This tone suddenly shifts however when Dastan suddenly goes on a fishing road trip with his two best friends, one who is trying to tap into his business prospects, the other a district police officer, all of who are bumbling buffoons, well outside of the comfort zone and trying to make the most of their outing.
To damn their characteristics isn’t one that scoffs at their downfall but more so embraces their faults with a humorous response to their ill choices along the way.
I read somewhere about the comparisons to The Coen Brothers movies in style and tone, and for this I can totally picture it, especially some of their earlier movies such as Blood Simple. The similarities see these loveable characters trip and fall over their own blunders in a journey that will question if they will see the end and live to tell the tale.
Along the way our trio fall foul of a quartet of questionable characters from the underbelly of the criminal world, who also come with their own level of ignoramuses. These brothers argue and object to their own decisions, tripping over each other to gain a level of power over one another, much to their own detriment.
In a chance encounter, Dastan and his friends witness the brothers blow the head off of a minion. From her on in, Dastan must strive to last the night and find their way back home without the know-how or intellect to do so.
Throw into the mix, other oddities in a one-eyed spiritual kick-ass vigilante hell-bent on the revenge of the death of his dog; an enraptured odd young lady with the aid of her equally strange father, then we’re treated with a unique and funny tale that s a joy to behold.
Let this one absorb you and you will be entertained by the farcical, heightened dark comedy on display.
There is a lot of fun on display here, and director Yernar Nurgaliyev manages to dance with the sense of humour aimed at your everyman trio subjected to the ridiculous in order to survive and provide a wake up call to the things that matter to them.
A great festival opener.
- Saul Muerte