SIDE EFFECT aka MARA (2020) Reviews and overview of witch horror



Side Effect is a 2020 horror film about a husband seeking to erase his wife’s memory of a carnal assault that resulted in the loss of their baby. To do so, he enlists the aid of a modern-day witch whose eerie apartment they must stay in and whose “special” medicine involves the use of psychoactive mushrooms. The movie is also known as Mara

Written and directed by Aleksey Kazakov, making his feature debut. Produced by Evgeniy Abyzov, Aleksey Kazakov, Sergey Kornikhin and Sofia Kvashilava.

The Russian Drug Druga production stars Semyon Serzin, Marina Vasileva, Aleksandra Revenko, Anatoliy Zhuravlyov and Maria Abramova.



“Underneath the glow in the dark psychedelics and dream-within-a-dream antics, Mara remains thin stuff. It may base its story on Slavic folklore, but any attempt to add such a layer of sophistication cannot disguise the overall nastiness here […] dubbed so woefully that the viewer is transported back to the worst of foreign cine-horror of the 1970s…” Bloody Flicks

” …an extremely entertaining and intoxicating sequence of events that successfully melted portions of my brain. Ultimately, Mara is a tale about the position of women when exposed to the mistakes of men, with the two female leads undergoing different journeys bound together by similar threads. There are clearly visible lessons and an important social commentary residing beneath the twisted layers.” Horror DNA

“It is a disorienting hallucinatory construction, built both on a long history of monstrous (or impotent) masculinity and bitterly scarred femininity – and on the grief, pain and deception that can undermine any household. As a bricks-and-mortar anatomisation of emotional problems, Kazakov’s film takes us to some very strange, hidden places in a relationship…” Projected Figures



Released in Russia on November 5, 2020.

In the UK, Mara was screened at the Grimmfest International Festival of Fantastic Film on April 3, 2021.

Cast and characters:

Semyon Serzin … Andrey
Marina Vasileva … Olya
Aleksandra Revenko … Ved’ma
Anatoliy Zhuravlyov … Starik
Maria Abramova … Devochka
Maria Karpova … Nina
Stepan Devonin … Kirill
Sergey Cherdantsev … Vor
Natalya Dedeyko … Mama ved’my
Nikita Tezov … Sledovatel
Lyubov Firsova … Sotrudnitsa muzeya

Filming locations:

Moscow, Russia

Technical details:

93 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Original title:

Побочный эффект aka Pobochnyi effekt


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