LFF Review: Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse

There are many who still sniff at horror cinema and persist on trying to diminish it. Over the last couple of years, the odious term post-horror has seeped into popular culture. This expression has been used to describe films such as Get Out, Split, It Comes at Night and The Witch, which allows praise to be given without admitting that they should be categorised as genre cinema. It all began with The Witch, which has the temerity to follow classic Gothic and pagan traditions. Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse owes much to Robert Eggers stylish debut whilst creating its own beautiful dark mystique.

Twenty-years after the traumatizing death of her mother, Albrun (Aleksandra Cwen), a young goatherd living in the Alps, gradually discovers a dark presence residing in the woods. Pagan suspicions abound in 15th century rural Austria, and now a mother herself, she’s labelled as a witch and shunned by the small community. Isolated, she becomes increasingly delusional. The line between reality, visions and nightmares blur as she fights the malevolence within her own soul.

Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse is a beautiful and eerie slice of genre cinema which embraces the occult and those unseen horrors which lurk in the dark recesses of the mind. Writer and director Lukas Feigelfeld keeps the viewer shrouded in mystery. The Alps provide a rugged, mysterious and dangerous spectre; casting a dark shadow over every scene. The sound design subtly builds up atmosphere whilst Cwen is a hypnotic screen presence. Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse is a chilling slice of late Medieval arcana.

Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse screens at London Film Festival on 8 & 9 October.

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