‘A gothic folk tale’
Hagazussa aka Hagazussa – A Heathen’s Curse is a 2017 Austrian-German horror feature film directed by Lukas Feigelfeld. It marks Feigelfeld’s graduating feature from the Berlin-based film school Deutsche Film-und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB), which he produced with Retina Fabrik.
In the 15th Century in the remote Austrian Alps, the orphan Albrun (Celina Peter) grows up to be a simple goatherd living in solitude… and a marked woman.
As a scapegoat of ancient myths and monstrous misogyny, Albrun (portrayed by Aleksandra Cwen as an adult) finds herself tormented by the local townsfolk, driving her to unleash the inner darkness that swells within her. A self-styled witch, Albrun soon exercises her other-worldly birthright and conjures a plague that makes the surrounding human cruelty look pathetic and small by comparison.
Previously, Toronto-based Raven Banner (Trench 11; Another Evil; Crabs!; et al) picked up Canadian rights to Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse.
“Hagazussa is a beautifully crafted, stylish and thought-provoking gothic horror film,” Raven Banner managing partner James Fler said. Business partner Michael Paszt added: “Feigelfield’s vision, and attention to the craft of filmmaking, definitely makes him an exciting new filmmaker to watch. We are very pleased to be part of this amazing film.”
“The aim of Hagazussa was to dissect the mind of the main character Albrun, a simple goatherd living in solitude and tormented by the local town folk,” Feigelfeld said. “After researching old pagan beliefs and folklore about witches that were supposed to roam the mountain woods in those times, my interest was to develop a character that these folk tales would have branded as a witch, but to dig deeper into her psyche and see her as the traumatised, mistreated and finally delusional person that society constructed.”
Feigelfeld said he wanted to understand the “utterly evil things people were led to do while suffering from psychosis in the Middle Ages” surrounded by superstition and religious persecution. “The film tries to depict a very personal and empathetic mental image of a nightmarish and sick mind.”
“It’s filled with shocking events and images but thankfully they follow logically from the story and don’t feel like they’re there just to shock. Indeed, this is not an easy film to watch at times both because of how it’s told and the story itself, but it deserves the effort required.” Beneath the Underground
“It speaks to the deep, dark in everyone and takes uncomfortable situations and puts them front and center in a battle of good vs evil, of mental issues vs mental health, to create a story that has depth, complexity, and is worth getting through. The film is stunning and visually deep. The story is something that is not agreeable but definitely worth a watch.” Cinema Crazed
“It doesn’t achieve a revelatory or truly frightening narrative, but it also doesn’t reach for that. The film’s gorgeous photography and dread-summoning soundscapes conjure pure sensation, a rare feat in any medium. When world-building and atmosphere often feel left behind in modern cinema, a little gem like this becomes a dark, poisonous treat for lovers of cinema that pushes boundaries.” Daily Dead
“From its opening base note deep enough to test the Curzon’s speakers, this feature debut by Berlin Film School alumnus Lukas Feigelfeld does what all good horror must: never lets you relax. But there’s more than just genre at work here: the hypnotic soundtrack, iconic use of fire and constant sense of dread are very much at the arthouse end of the spectrum.” Evening Standard
” …confidently bending genre rules with its minimalist dialogue and hallucinatory plot, which owes more to David Lynch or Lars von Trier than to more orthodox horror maestros. While its abstract, dreamlike tone will clearly make it a niche item, this classy art-house chiller should appeal to more discerning genre fans and cult movie buffs generally.” The Hollywood Reporter
“It’s a hard watch, but for those who seek out films that hurt, you won’t be disappointed. The film is photographed beautifully; many scenes feel like an oil painting of the Dark Ages come to life. While many scenes are mortifying, there’s much beauty to behold in these little deaths.” Screen Anarchy
Hagazussa received its world premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas during September 2017.