The last few years of horror has produced some noteworthy titles including It Follows, The Babadook, Don’t Breath and various other independent films that will be shown for generations to come. Unfortunately Queen of Spades falls into the direct-to-DVD category and will most likely stay put.
It’s a shame, because what the story presents is a neat, if not well tread formula of mythology that gets buried under a vague, rushed screenplay. Any horror or film buff will know the plot of curious teens summoning an urban legend for a prank, only to have it actually become real and thus beginning to pick them off one by one. What this film does a little differently however is throwing adults into the mix by forcing them to deal with the deadly entity too, instead of just stating every five minutes that it’s all in the kids imagination.
This works in the film’s favour as it brings a broken family back together to save the daughter that the Queen of Spades (the titular ghost) wants the most. But that’s as deep and interesting as it gets as we’re presented with your standard horror movie jump-scares and a terrible CGI spectre. The film works best when we don’t see, but can only hear the Queen, but unfortunately she is revealed way too early, so any later attempts to set a suspenseful scene for another character to die is taken away, leaving no mystery. A big horror no, no.
It’s not all bad however, as the cinematography gives the film a cold and icy feel. It also helps that it was made in Russia, with snow surrounding the characters at every turn. Director Svyatoslav Podgayevskiy presents a few nice touches of tension, but his screenplay is the ultimate letdown as the back story of the Queen of Spades is only touched upon, dragging out the ending and requiring quite a bit of patience in an otherwise rushed film.
On the acting front, it’s about as clichéd as it gets, but the cast do what they can with the story, especially the father (Igor Khripunov) and daughter (Alina Babak), who play off each other well.
Queen of Spades: The Last Rite won’t change the face of horror but if you’re after something a little on the hokey side, that’s gore-free, then you may get some enjoyment out of it.
Queen of Spades: The Dark Rite will be screening at the 2016 Russian Resurrection Film Festival, for session times and tickets, please go here.