Cargo 200 Aleksei Balabanov - Russia By Cormac O'Síocháin The true story of a series of related murders in Soviet Kazakhstan, 1984, this film’s dark essence is not unlike the work of John Carpenter or David Cronenberg in its steady undefined menace. With unsettlingly chirpy music used to devastating effect, one is left in disbelief as writer/director Aleksei Balabanov crafts scenes of the most wretched horror to a bopping '80s soundtrack, with repeated themes adding to a wretchedly black humour that had me stifle a laugh many times over. The atmosphere embraces the languid squalor of the Soviet East, both in its dilapidated dissolution and the apathy of those living through it. Scenes of blindingly sudden existential violence explode from the mundane depravity of everyday shortages and crushing depression, whilst relentless vistas of grey industrial city blocks continuously grind in a sense of oppressive poverty, alcoholism and misery feeding off each other. The story progresses from an unassuming beginning through a rapid descent into the insane malevolence of the chief protagonist, as he plays the system with sociopathic disdain for everything but his own nefarious whims. Amidst the carnage is an interesting dialogue on the existence of god and the insidious politics of the communist party, providing some insight into the unrepentant cruelty which reportedly characterised the regime. In all, a horrendously bleak film with little to no respite; its only comfort is the anticipation of the iron curtain’s fall. Fucking grim.