DESCENT INTO DARKNESS: MY EUROPEAN NIGHTMARE **** France 2013 Dir: Rafaël Cherkaski 92 mins

Russian cameraman Sorgoi Prakov is making a documentary and has planned his trip around several European countries. His hope is to create an idyllic view of all of these countries capital cities and monuments to bring to life his vision of the European Dream. Starting his experience in Paris, he is given the go ahead by his producers and handed a wad of cash. Full of enthusiasm and kitted out with his expensive looking camera/mic set up to edit his findings along the way, Sorgoi is incredibly excited and ready to commence his filming straight away!
His first few days  in Paris are great, he visits the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe but is increasingly agitated when the Louvre will not allow him in with his film equipment. What he really wants to see is real French people and not a load of tourists. He investigates the nightlife by hanging out at parties getting high and drinking with locals. He is having the time of his life until a few attempts are made to steal his camera off him. One such attempt results in Sorgoi being badly beaten up and his camera is broken. After splurging a lot of his cash already on French cuisine, booze and drugs, he spends the last of his money on a new camera but then his producers stop answering his calls and leave him stranded in Paris. Left on the streets to fend for himself his European Dream becomes a nightmare! This is very well done with great acting from the small main cast, director Rafael Cherkaski plays the incredibly chirpy (at first) Sorgoi Prakov. Its hard not to love his happy little face squished into the head gear he wears to hold his camera in place and his enthusiasm is infectious, but as he descends into barbaric mania then your feelings soon change towards him. The second half of the movie is a far cry from the fun and frolics at the start as Sorgoi has no choice but to live on the streets and he gradually spirals from petty theft and public defecation to stalking, rape, torture and macabre puppet shows. I think the greatest thing about this movie are the choices they made on what images we should and should not see. There is a rather disturbing scene filmed in darkness that shows nothing but flashes of a naked Sorgoi in front of a mirror covered in blood. You know exactly what has happened without having to see any of it but are still left feeling rather shocked, and that isn’t the only part, his final house invasion will leave a particularly sour taste in your mouth. The soundtrack is very entertaining at the start and darkly effective as the movie progresses. Towards the end Prakov starts to revert back to his native language (or is he just speaking in tongues?!) until finally he only manages primitive grunts so at this point the music and imagery come to the forefront with the quality of the film degrading violently to portray the neglect of the camera as it keeps on rolling. Another low budget found footage movie to join the others but this one is up there with Adrian Tofei’s BE MY CAT: A FILM FOR ANNE in my opinion and is definitely worth a watch or two.

Review by Sarah Budd

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