THE RUSSIAN BRIDE is the latest film from writer/director Michael S. Ojeda (Avenged) which just had its World Premiere at the Cinepocalypse Film Festival yesterday. The film centers around a Russian woman and her daughter who travel to America to marry a reclusive billionaire who turns out to be their worse nightmare. The film stars newcomer Oksana Orlan (Sangre Negra), Kristina Pimenova (Creators: The Past), and Corbin Bernsen (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).
Nina (Orlan) receives the opportunity of a lifetime when Karl (Bernsen), an eccentric billionaire, proposes to her from the U.S. with promises of a better life for her and her daughter, Dasha (Pimenova). Leaving her family behind in Russia, Nina and Dasha travel to the States to live in a luxurious mansion with all the amenities they could ask. Nina is excited to begin her life with Karl, especially after the disastrous relationship she left behind in Russia, and though Karl has some peculiar traits, she brushes it off as newlywed jitters. Soon after the marriage is finalized, though, the fairytale life that Nina has dreamed of begins to crumble as Karl’s secret past is revealed, turning her and her daughter’s lives into a living hell.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this film initially but what I can say since watching it is that the end result did not disappoint. The film opens with our billionaire baron swiping through photos and videos of Russian women online who are looking to find that special husband that will sweep them away to America so that they escape their lives in Russia. In other words, we are looking at a modern day mail-order bride scenario and our charismatic baron has found the woman of his dreams… or so we think. Nina, living a life just above destitution, trying to escape the abusive behavior of her ex, is willing to do whatever it takes to give her and her daughter a better life. This is where Karl comes into play, sweeping Nina off her feet with a life that one only reads about in fairy-tales. I wasn’t sure how this was going to play out on screen, a much older man wooing a woman half his age that he paid for, but the chemistry between these two during their interactions is palpable and uniquely dynamic, and not in the way you would think.
Don’t be fooled by that description because THE RUSSIAN BRIDE is far from a love story. The interaction between Karl and Nina is both disturbing and, at times, heart-wrenching. Oksana Orlan nails her character through and through, showcasing a range of emotions that are hard to watch as she tries to protect her daughter while also being the best wife she can to a man who hasn’t been truthful about his intentions. Corbin Bernsen, who portrays Karl, is just as effective and will leave many in the audience angered by his misogynistic demands and persona as well as his emotional detachment. Initially, I had no idea why he was acting the way he was, but once Nina starts to pull back the layers of his personality it was hard to not want to slap the shit-eating grin off of his face. Don’t get me wrong, I may have hated his character, but it’s because Bernsen did such a great job of portraying a garbage human being that you can’t help but be disgusted by his actions.
As for the story, I think Ojeda did a fantastic job of weaving a narrative that is both grounded in reality but also maintains horror elements that viewers will appreciate. I know some people may not be fans of the “slow-burn” but I can attest that THE RUSSIAN BRIDE does an effective job at keeping your attention as you start to piece together the puzzle. Also, for those of you who like their films to be filled with as much carnage as humanly possible, I think you’ll find a lot to appreciate with this film, especially towards the end.
All in all, THE RUSSIAN BRIDE is a superb film that I hope all of you get the chance to check out. I’m always a fan of women finding their strength and kicking ass which this film does a tremendous job of showcasing as well as putting a spotlight on how far a mother will go to protect their child. The realization that Nina is not one to be fucked with is a great moment in the movie, and though that comes about with a little help from a certain substance, it’s definitely one of those scenes that will be remembered for years to come.