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Review: Blake Mawson’s PYOTR495

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I try not to mix politics and social issues with horror films because we’re all here to enjoy the genre, not get into heated debates. This cannot be avoided, however, when penning a review of PYOTR495. Due to the election of Donald Trump, America is split right now due to fears of human rights violations he may enact once he officially begins his presidency. Specifically in regards to LGBT members, the community is nervous that Trump will strip them of the right to get married. These thoughts are challenged by other members of the straight community who believe homosexuality is wrong and demonic. While I side with the LGBT community, I’m at least proud to live in a nation where we can hold such debates and have the right to be unique in our thoughts and actions. The same cannot be said for Russia, a country where it is quite literally illegal to be openly gay. PYOTR495 is able to mesh all of these themes into one culturally relevant short film.

PYOTR495 starts with a mandatory shot of an attractive gay youth in his underwear, watching television and cruising a hook up app. He matches with another man and briskly takes off on his motorcycle to meet up for adult activities. They meet in a luxurious apartment and the date is going well until the older man starts hurling bigoted words in the young man’s direction, ultimately ending with him being knocked unconscious and taken hostage. As it turns out, the older man and his friends are part of a gay hating cult that seek out to torture LGBT youths. The tables are turned, however, when it turns out the hostage has dirtier ideas than originally understood. PYOTR495 is written and directed by Blake Mawson. Lead and supporting cast members include Alex Ozerov, Max Rositsan, Julianna Semenova, Alanna Bale, Justin Strazzanti and Grisha Pasternak.

What’s most frightening about PYOTR495 is that this sort of thing happens on a daily basis around the world, minus the cult and creepy twist ending. Real life horror is the scariest thing of all and if you can realize that LGBT people receive this treatment, and sometimes it’s not even reported, the world looks a whole lot darker. This short film is a stark, depressing and bloody look at the world we live in – one that’s so twisted with hate and bigotry and people who are so scared of our differences that they’d rather eradicate them. PYOTR495 is culturally, socially and thematically relevant and I have no suspicion why it’s doing so well in the film festival circuit around the globe. As a member of the LGBT community myself, it illicited a particularly anxiety filled response from me. Can’t we all just get along?

Thought provoking and brutal, PYOTR495 begs two questions. Who are the real demons in this conflict, the aggressors who rattle on about their ideals or the human beings who just want to live in peace? And, should the oppressed people of Earth sit back and take the beating or match violence with violence? I promoted this movie some time ago and honestly didn’t expect it to be as relevant as it turned out to be. I’d call it The Devil’s Rejects of Russia, and you’ll have to watch for yourself to see what I mean by that. Also, mad props to the dedicated actors if they really shaved their heads for roles in this short film! final Score: 7 out of 10.

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Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)

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