I watched a movie called “Day Watch” made in Russia by a Russian director named Timur Bekmambetov, based on the best-selling sci-fi novels of Sergei Lukyanenko. All the characters speak Russian. The special effects are pretty good mostly because there seem to be a good number of buildings in Moscow being blown up (and recorded on film as they do so) and because your basic Russian stunt person is willing to risk his or her life for a buck.
But I actually thought about this movie a little after I watched it. It has some elements of horror in it, though remarkably little blood and no gratuitous torture stuff like Hostel (though that was an OK horror film); but mostly I would call it fantasy. The forces of light and dark are fighting it out for the soul of Russia. Actually light and dark have a truce but they keep breaking it. Sort of like the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union. I would say in fact exactly like.
The forces of light seem to be the “Russian people” at their best. If they weren’t characters in a fantasy movie, they would be good people like doctors, or teachers, or religious persons who believe, as all good Russians do, that life is suffering and all they want to do is get through it without hurting others too much. The forces of dark look like decadent Euro-trash heavily influenced by Capitalism. They want stuff and cheap thrills.
So unlike most of American horror film, this one is actually about something.
Finally, I guess, the forces of light win. This is not a Gnostic world. But more old testament. In the closing scene light and dark make a bet, just like God and The Devil in the Book of Job. Light wins the bet and exclaims, “Your mama!” at the defeated force of dark. This is not very Biblical, true, but maybe something was lost in translation.
Sadly this happy ending is clearly an act of wish fulfillment. The main character, who has really screwed up, can only set things right by getting this piece of magic chalk that allows a person to correct a mistake previously made. So the main character goes back to where he lived as a child and writes on the wall of the apartment, Het, which means in Russian, no. He writes no because in this place many years before he said “yes” to his mother when she asked if he wanted to become one of the supernatural beings. That was the mistake that set everything in motion that led eventually (in the film) to all of Moscow being laid waste by the forces of dark.
Interestingly, the year the character said yes and should have said no was 1992. It says so right there on the screen. 1992.
Why 1992? Well that’s the year Russia sold its soul to the Devil. As I said though the movie is fantasy because its whole logic is informed by wish fulfillment. There is no way to go back and say Het to 1992.
Below according to one website here is all the stuff that happened in Russia in 1992.
In 1992 Russia acquired the former USSR’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council as its defacto successor and also took over all Soviet properties and embassies abroad. In Jan. 1992 Russia became a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) following agreements reached in Nov. 1991 with Ukraine and Belarus. Also in Jan. 1992 Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar announced plans for price liberalization that resulted in rapid price increases while the central bank began to extend further credit to support industry and trade. Following Russia’s initiative, which resulted from the effects of the common currency and each republics implementation of trade barriers to protect their industries and goods, the other CIS republics followed suit. Russia also imposed export quotas and taxes which resulted in exporters leaving their hard-currency earnings in foreign offshore banks while imports were also centralized. On March 31, 1992 the 18 of the 20 sovereign republics signed a federal treaty that established the Russian Federation, with Tartarstan endeavoring to gain a separate agreement with the federation and Checheno-Ingushetia announcing its independence. In June 1992 Pres. Yeltsin and Ukraine’s Pres. Leonid Kravchuk reached an agreement over the former USSR’s Black Sea Fleet in which command was to be withdrawn from the CIS, the point of contention and be placed under a joint Russian-Ukrainian command for three years. Also in June 1992 Russia recognized and sided with the Transdnistria republic separatists from Moldova. In July 1992 Russia signed high-level economic and military agreements with Belarus. In Sept. 1992 Russia and Georgia signed an agreement that recognized Abkhazia as a part of Georgia while the Russian Parliament under the speaker, Ruslan Khasbulatov threatened to annex South Ossetia, another conflict spot in Georgia. In Oct. 1992 Pres. Yeltsin banned the Parliament’s (Supreme Soviet) private army following Khasbulatov’s continual demands that the government be subordinate to it rather than the president. In Nov. 1992 the Constitutional Court ruled that the Communist Party ban was constitutional, following the Communists claims that the 1991 ban was unconstitutional. In Dec. 1992 Pres. Yeltsin made various deals including the slowdown of market reforms with the influential Civic Union, a center-right coalition of four groups, in an attempt to halt demands that the government resign. However, on Dec. 9, 1992 during a session of the Congress of the People’s Deputies, Pres. Yeltsin and the Congress clashed over their failure to endorse Yegor Gaidar as Prime Minister with Pres. Yeltsin describing the congress as a "fortress of conservative and reactionary forces." On Dec. 12, 1992 Pres. Yeltsin and Ruslan Khasbulatov agreed to a national referendum on a new constitution to be held in April 1993, that many of Pres. Yeltsin’s emergency powers be extended until the referendum, that the Congress could nominate and vote on its own choices for Prime Minister as well as the President’s nomination and that it also had the right to reject the President’s nominations for the Defense, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Security ministries. On Dec. 14, 1992 Pres. Yeltsin nominated Viktor Chernomyrdin as Prime Minister which the Congress confirmed. On Dec. 29, 1992 Russia and the US announced they had agreed on the terms for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II) pact which would reduce each country’s nuclear arsenal by two-thirds. Also in 1992 Russia signed a bilateral treaty with Britain and Pres. Yeltsin pledged to abandon military support for North Korea following his visit to South Korea.