“In this eternally ending world, I stopped looking for answers a long time ago,” intones the unnamed protagonist of Night God, adding, “Only questions make sense.” But even that’s debatable in Kazakh writer/director Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s enigmatic yet enthralling vision of the apocalypse.
For sheer atmosphere, there’s no topping the stylized hellscape in which his experimental dystopian narrative takes place. The land has been plunged into darkness; civilized society has collapsed; and everybody huddles in the corners of the wreckage in a daze, apparently waiting to die. It’s a fate that meets some more quickly than others, as blood-splashed walls and the intermittent ring of gunshots attest; it may well be the main character’s next move too. After all, upon arriving in this village of the damned, he was forced by officials to go to the local TV studio ostensibly to appear as an extra on some sort of game show; instead, the crew strapped a ticking bomb on him, and now he’s wandering about with his daughter in tow in search of the authority who can sign the papers to free him. Granted, freedom seems a meaningless concept in the limbo before the awakening of the night god—unless, that is, the chief security officer is right in his claim that “resistance is the sense of life.” Both father and daughter are due to find out.
In his director’s statement, Yerzhanov notes that his antihero is “looking for the reasons of his existence—the power that would give him courage to confront the absurdity of life” even as “the end of the world is already happening.” For all the film’s mythological constructs, there’s no denying its parallels to the realities we currently face.
Producer: Serik Abishev | Cinematographer: Yedige Nessipbekov | Screenwriter: Adilkhan Yerzhanov
Cast: Maxim Bogomolov, Konstantin Kozlov, Adiya Mussina, Saltanat Nauruz