Ivan Berkhoff, a well known journalist who specializes in covering stories that involve the paranormal and the supernatural, is sent to a small village where there has been reports of strange occurances. What should have been just another story for Ivan will become one of the greatest challenges he has ever faced. When he is mistaken for a priest, he is requested to perform Mass over the body of a young girl, who is considered the embodiement of pure evil, for three nights.
By accident, I came across the movie "Vedma" while I was browsing through a database. Reading some brief information on the movie, it claimed that "Vedma" was a remake to the 1967 movie "Viy". This of course caught my attention since I enjoyed "Viy" to consider it to be rather underappreciated at times. While "Viy" is a bit on the dated side, it features some pretty amazing filming techniques and visuals given the time it was made. So I figured I would give "Vedma" a whirl thinking I was going to get something just as visually interesting as "Viy", unfortunately that wasn't the case.
For those who are unfamiliar with either movie, both movies are based on a short horror story that goes by the same name as the 1967 film. The original story is about a monk who's traveling and ends up staying at an old woman's farm for the night. During the night, the old woman attacks the monk and rides on his back through the country side. After gaining the upper hand, he beats the old woman and as he's beating her, she turns to a young woman. In a state of horror, the monk flees and ends up at a village where a young woman who was found half dead, asked specifically for the monk to read prayers over her body for three nights. Each night though, she resurrects, more powerful than the last time and turns each night into a frightening living hell.
Now the original "Viy" is more of a direct adaptation of the story so I, more or less, thought I'd be getting the exact same thing with "Vedma". As it turns out though, "Vedma" isn't a remake but rather a retelling of the original story. Except this time, the writers were a bit more liberal with their source material. In an attempt to not only make the movie more modern and fit with the times, but to help making it more marketable for American distribution. Which, going by what other critics have said about the movie, is what lead to its failure and it's easy to see why. Russians have their own style when it comes to film; it's hard to describe it accuratly but they have paticular look, style, and tone. With "Vedma", it's not hard to notice the obvious influence of Western horror films as it opted for sleek computer-based visuals rather than substance. Although, when the visuals are just as dull and repetitive as other previous modern day supernatural movies, what are you left with?
Rather than the story revolving around a monk, this time it's about a reporter named Ivan Berkhoff, who specializes in journalism about supernatural and other assorted odd-natured items (including a Miss Big Boobs contest, because that's funny, I guess). He heads to a small village known as Castle Ville to investigate some odd occurrences that have been happening there. After becoming stranded, he stays at an old farm house, and like the original story, is attacked by an old woman who turns into a young woman. After escaping, he steals the clothes off the dead body of a priest that he ran into earlier, finds his way into Castle Ville. Ivan is mistaken for the priest that the young girl asked for and he is stuck having to perform the three night ceremony. Excluding the reporter pretending to be a priest aspect, that much of the story stays true to the original. The rest of the movie is where it starts to become its own clichéd story of a man who needs to find faith in order to fight off evil. Even then, the story is quite sloppy from poor character development, and pointless dialogue exchanges between Ivan and an assortment of various characters from the village. Often which had very little to do with the actual story or served any purpose.
The worst aspect of the movie is how quickly it moves. I mean, this is a fast paced movie to the point that we can never get attached to the characters or get to see the moral and spiritual dilemma of Ivan. Which results in a conflict of how the story functions. Instead the movie just blows through each scene; jumping from one scene of expository dialogue to the next, to suddenly Ivan reading prayers during one of the three nights and battling the witch. Because the movie moves so fast, not only do you lose proper character and story development, but it never manages to create any scares. Each night sequence lasts anywhere between five or ten minutes. Considering this is where the horror aspect comes into play, having rushed scenes like this doesn't cut it. Though these moments, like the rest of the movie, were handled equally as poorly since the witch/young girl does little more than fly around the room. Making some kind of attempts (not really) at attacking the young man. Where's the horror in that?
There are plenty of other aspects that help to make this movie an abysmal failure; like the awful wooden, emotionless acting from everybody involved in the movie. The main reasons why "Vedma" is such a flop is because the story and characters are sloppy, the pacing is eratic, and there is absolutely no atmosphere. Somethings can be overlooked, like the pacing, but this movie desperately needed atmosphere which it was completely devoid of.