I don't watch trailers. I don't read much about films, especially anything I know I'll see. For the most part I trust intuition and the circles that I run in. I had no idea what I was getting into with Hagazussa. What...a...fucking...flick.
We are in the Alps, 15th Century. It is winter. The snow is thick. A mother and her young daughter Albrun walk through what feels like and endless forest. The atmosphere unnerving. They make it back to their cabin. Night falls. As the mother and Albrun eat, the mother hears something outside. She goes outside to investigate and just yards away, men now stand. The men are dressed in goat skins, wearing goat horns. Their faces hidden. The mother stares for a moment and then goes back inside. Seconds after she closes the door, banging ensues. Not only on the door but the entire one room cabin itself. As the banging ceases the men say, "Witches. You should be burned."
A small amount time seems to have passed. Not a noticeable amount. It appears the mother has fallen ill. More time passes. Young Albrun struggles to take care of her mother. Perhaps delusional, the mother wanders out to the wilderness one night. She dies. When young Albrun finds her mother's body, she has snakes crawling on her. Strange because it's winter. Something evil, even otherworldly lurks.
I'm leaving a considerable amount of information out between the mother getting sick and her eventual death but I just can't ruin it for you. Unsettling would be an understatement. However, clueless I was, because the most haunting and most horrific had yet to come.
15 years pass. Albrun is grown. Albrun has a child. This is where I leave you with the plot. Because everything that follows could be put into words but shouldn't if you haven't seen it yet.
Writer and director Lukas Feigelfeld created one of the most well-delivered, unnerving pieces of cinema in my immediate memory. To see what you see, presented the way it was, I found to be absolutely brilliant. A truly haunting performance by Aleksandra Cwen as Albrun. Some of the scenes involving her will plague my mind for quite some time, I'm sure. A testament to her dedication to the role. MMMD provides a score just as grim and tone setting as any. When you hear it you think, "Ah shit, we're in for a rough one." I couldn't mean that in a more positive way.
The production and costume design only added to the film's believability and they should be recognized and commended for such. Mix that with the beautifully dark cinematography by Mariel Baquiero and you have an environment that'll make you uneasy in a heartbeat. Absolutely pristine editing by Jorg Volkmar. Be it Claudia Martini (Mutter) or Tanja Petrovsky (Swinda) in the cast, to the sound department, the special effects department and other members of the crew, everyone's work should be applauded.
I went in knowing nothing, expecting nothing and walked out thinking it was a masterpiece of sinister supernatural cinema.
Hagazussa is now streaming on Amazon Prime, Shudder and Music Box Direct! You can also purchase the film on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD from Doppelganger Releasing and Bloody Disgusting.