Viy / Вий (Forbidden Empire)

Published: June 21, 2016

Viy (Вий) is the 2014 adaptation of the Soviet Russian horror film from 1967. The original film was in turn loosely based on the short story of the same name by Nikolai Gogol, published in 1835. The new film was released as Forbidden Empire in some English-speaking countries.

The film takes place at the start of the 1700s, when cartographer Jonathan Green is going on an expedition through Romania, the Carpathians, and Ukraine. While on the trip, he ends up in a small, mysterious village whose residents have tried to barricade themselves off from the outside world, and from the evil that surrounds them. Green meets two theologians who tell him the story of Khoma Brut, a young man from the area who accidentally killed a witch a year ago (and whose story was told in the original Viy film), and he gets caught up in the drama and darkness of the cursed village.

The film received modest reviews from critics and audiences, and was unsurprisingly rated less highly than the original film. The original Viy was highly popular when it was released and was the first-ever Soviet horror film. Critics of the new film noted that while the scenery and special effects were impressive, the film’s derivative plot was not, and it had little do with the Gogol story. Jason Flemyng, the British actor who played the leading role in the film, told Komsomolskaya Pravda that the intention was not to “improve a classic but to adapt it for our time.”

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Director: Oleg Stepchenko
Stars: Jason Flemyng, Aleksey Chadov, Agnija Ditkovskytė, Yuriy Tsurilo, Andrei Smolyakov, Olga Zaytseva, Aleksey Petrukhin
Production company: Maris Group Entertainment, RFG (Russian Film Group), Step by Step Film Production

Official trailer:

Find Viy on Amazon

Viy / Вий (Forbidden Empire)

About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie studied Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk and before that, Bishkek, with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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