ONCE UPON A TIME ON ALL HALLOWS’ EVE BY JAROSLAW GOGOLIN

Directed by Jaroslaw Gogolin / Reviewed by Adva Reichman

For centuries tales about ghosts, spirits and unexplained occurrences have inspired countless of films and TV shows. These events make for a very good story, one that makes you gasp, cover your eyes and run for the closest exit. The suspense/horror lovers among us enjoy that thrill, and so ‘Once Upon a Time on All Hallowes’ Eve’ is the treat you’re looking for.

The film opens on a young woman, Amy, as she’s waking up. Amy, played by the talented Mira Koteva, seems to be excited as if she’s waiting for her loved one to arrive. But as we slowly learn, her wait doesn’t end. The dramatic music hits pretty fast and tips off the feeling of wrong doing. Although the music is beautifully written, I would have liked to see it gradually build into the dramatic sad tone it displays, rather than starting with it at a point we don’t know the story yet. It was too soon and didn’t relate to the image on screen.

As the film continues the director sheds more light about Amy’s situation and we understand she’s waiting for a man who will likely never return. Her mom implores her to come back home and move on with her life, but to no avail. Amy’s refusal to let go is becoming increasingly unhealthy. Surprisingly enough, her mom claims the man Amy loved was a bad man who was not good for her to begin with. Amy hears the words, but seems unable and far from ready to actually listen. Her mom’s pleas fall on deaf ears.

 As the day goes by, we learn tonight is a special night where the dead who have not found peace, can come back and haunt the living. This frightens Amy, and changes what we thought we know about who was to blame for what wrong in the relationship.

The director, Jaroslaw Gogolin, and writer, Anna Tyko, successfully lead us through the story’s twists and turns. They makes us think we understand what is happening and where the story is heading, upping the tension and fear, and then at the very last second they pull out the rug from underneath our feet.

The end is surprising, confusing and exciting. And although I was left with questions I couldn’t find answers for, I enjoyed the path the filmmakers took me on. I do think the film could have benefitted from being cut shorter, but the overall piece is enchanting, and the viewer is in for a ride.

The cinematography, done by Magda Kowalczyk, was delicate and complimented the plot. Towards the end of the film, as all hell breaks loose, the cinematography shines and the visuals strengthen the climax.

The music chosen for the film is beautiful and helps convey the turmoil Amy, who doesn’t speak a word throughout the entire film, is going through. To present a film where the lead character says nothing, but expresses everything, is not an easy task and I must salute the filmmakers and actress Mira Koteva, for doing such a fine job.

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