This version of Viy has been mounted as a prestige production, as evidenced by the import of names with international marquee appeal like Jason Flemyng and Charles Dance. A huge amount of budget has been placed into the sets and dressings and the visual effects. The film looks a beautifully set up work of Gothic fantasy the landscape broods with flocks of crows, witches on broomsticks, tree monsters and pursuit by packs of phantom wolves. The nearest equivalent might be something like Tim Burtons Sleepy Hollow (1999) or perhaps Tsui Harks Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010). Jason Flemyng is written as an eccentric cartographer inventor with a horse carriage of quasi-Steampunk pop-out inventions.
At the same time, the film is a mishmash of script elements that are all over the place. In the 1967 film and the short story, the night in the crypt was the climactic scene; here it (sort of) takes place during the opening scene and the rest of the film is an elaborate piece of plotting that reveals that that wasnt what happened at all. At least, thats what I think it is about. The rest of the plot essentially reduces the Gogol story to the denouement of an episode of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? (1969-72) where spooky elements are revealed to be no more than a villain in a costume and explaining the resurrection away as not having happened. The bulk of the film becomes taken up by a lot of running around the village with Jason Flemyng and the happenings between various others including a corrupt cleric and a mute girl innocently accused of being a witch. It is like the Gogol story has been stripped of all the supernatural aspects by someone who is determined to turn it into something where they cant decide if it is a Gothic fantasy or a comedy, ending up achieving only narrative incoherence.
Director Oleg Stepchenko, along with Jason Flemyng and Charles Dance, is set to return with a sequel Viy 2: Journey to China (2018).