Next up in my suite of reviews for the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival is the German (Austrian?) film, Hagazussa (aka: Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse). Let’s get into it shall we.
Albrun has always been an outsider in her tiny mountain region. She has lived in the same cabin outside of the village her whole life. We see the suspicion and hatred that the villagers treat her mother with when she is a child. Then, years later, we see her treated with the same contempt. There is only one woman who treats her kindly. And she seems to want to spend time with Albrun more and more. After a lifetime of being shunned and tormented, is Albrun ready to let someone into her life? Should she let the woman into her life? What does she really want from Albrun?
That description sounds overly mundane. But the film is anything but. The shear paranoia of the film makes it horrifying. Albrun’s questions are unspoken, but of dire importance. We simultaneously fear for her and hope that she makes a connection to humanity even if it’s a risk. The fact that she has a baby daughter with no man in sight, gives us a subtle clue as to how those connections have fared thus far. Lukas Feigelfeld shows that he has a mastery of subtlety with this film. The audience is given just enough to build a rich story on their own without losing depth or impact. And the film’s gorgeously photographed remote mountain location is used to full effect – holding on trees swaying gently in the breeze, the sky, the landscape. We sense disaster around the corner even though if we were asked to explain why, we would struggle to do so. The deliberate, lulling pacing and a sparse score of deep, resonant cello (at least i think it’s cello) elicit intense dread. The largely wordless film does so without ever resorting to explicit moments of violence. In this case, the aftermath is terrible enough.
The Final Cut: Hagazussa is a beautiful film that eschews graphic horrors for the horrors of humanity. It is perfectly paced and shot to build dread through its runtime all the way to its heartbreaking finale.