Though odd, Albrun (played hauntingly by Aleksandra Cwen) doesn’t seem to deserve the title ‘witch’. However, living in an isolated hut in 15th Century Europe with her baby daughter means that that’s the title she’s given.
However, when she is subjected to an awful act by the seemingly friendly Swinda (Tanja Petrovsky) she enacts a revenge that spirals into devastation for herself and those around her. When the film culminates in Albrun going on a calamitous trip via magic mushrooms, the title ‘witch’ (which incidentally is what ‘Hagazussa’ means in High German) seems more and more appropriate for her.
Though likely polarising, Hagazussa is a beautiful film – the stunning landscape and natural beauty surround the ugliness of the people that inhabit it. With very little dialogue and a tough plot to follow, the film may not be for some. However, for fans of films like The Witch, whose gritty atmospherics and purposefully leisurely pace pull you, almost unwittingly, into a world of unspeakable atrocities, then this is the film for you as it has a similar affect.
With its captivating visuals and alluring mysteries, Hagazussa almost dares you to look deeper… then makes you wish you didn’t. It’s also an absorbing character study on Albrun who’s dire circumstances are exasperated by her own choices; one moment you’re feeling sorry for Albrun, and then the next you’re horrified by her. Her character, like the film, keeps you guessing throughout and results in a gripping, thought-provoking horror that leaves you unsettled and perplexed. This is, astonishingly, director Lukas Feigelfeld’s graduation film and we can’t wait to see what he does next.
Hagazussa: Heathen’s Curse is available now from Arrow Video.