Fantasia Festival presents Sweetie You Won’t Believe It on digital from the 21st February 2022.
Yernar Nurgaliyev’s delightfully dark horror-comedy joyously plays with a range of classic slasher tropes at lightning speed. It’s 85-minute runtime barely giving you time to breathe as you bounce from gore to gags and back again. Here, Nurgaliyev’s mashup of horror past and present is laced with a slapstick, goofball humour and delicate conversation on masculinity. The result is an energetic comedy lined with gore and creativity that feels fresh and innovative, despite its tried and tested slasher themes.
Dastan (Daniyar Alshinov) spends his days desperately trying to balance his wife’s pregnancy with his own needs. To relax, Dastan plans a break from all the tension at home through a relaxing weekend fishing trip with his best friends Arman (Azamat Marklenov) and Muram (Yerlan Prynsetov). However, this break only adds to the turmoil at home as his wife waits for her waters to break. But, for Dastan, a boys weekend away is just what he needs; a chance to reconnect with the friends he has been distant from for a while.
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However, as the boy’s head out to the lake, none of them ever having fished in their lives, trouble is brewing. For unknown to the boys, a group of ham-fisted mobsters, Kuka (Alamat Sakatov), Petok (Rustem Zhaniyamanov) and Kissyk (Yerkebulan Daiyrov), are also heading in their direction to ‘deal’ with a few locals who have mistakenly crossed their path. As Dastan and his buddies use a truckload of faulty blow-up dolls as a boat for their leisure pursuits, the mobsters line up one of their victims and shoot him in full view of Dalsan and his friends. Of course, it’s not long before the mobsters realise their mistake, and our hapless fishermen find themselves the new target of the mobster’s fury. However, waiting in the wings is a far more deadly and menacing figure (Dulgya Akmolda).
Like the superb Why Don’t You Just Die (2018), Nurgaliyev perfectly balances the violence and gore of his movie with humour. Here each gory scene is followed by a beautifully timed gag. But it is within Nurgaliyev’s homage to the history of slasher horror that Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It truly sings. Here, we have a sprinkling of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a splatter of Deliverance and a wonderful homage to The Loved Ones in the final act. The result is a veritable feast of horror classics rolled into a comedy that echoes The Hangover. Now, if all this sounds like it really shouldn’t work, you would be right. But, strangely, it does, and while it occasionally trips up on the mayhem at its heart, the final picture is nonetheless impressive.
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This success is partly due to Alshinov, Marklenov and Prynsetov, who shine throughout, but praise also sits with Akmolda, whose deranged killer is inspired. Here we are offered a strange mix of Pluto from The Hills Have Eyes and T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The result is an absolute delight to watch as Akmolda’s bloody spree cuts through the comedy like a hot knife through butter.
However, beyond the comedy and gore, Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It also offers us a deliciously observed discussion on masculinity. Here, Nurgaliyev slowly peels back the shield of masculinity from each character, revealing the scared boy sitting under the surface as male bravado is replaced by fear and uncertainty. The result ensures Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It offers something genuinely unique and different despite its pastiche of themes. Here its creativity and charm are full of surprises as it takes you on a wild rollercoaster of gore and giggles.
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Nurgaliyev’s mashup of horror past and present is laced with a slapstick, goofball humour and delicate conversation on masculinity.