In 2000, the horror film “Final Destination” landed in theaters, eventually spawning four sequels. Yet a new documentary with a similar title is scarier than all five fictional works combined. This is real life horror, its violence nonsensical, maddening and inescapable.
On March 4, 2022, Nastia, Serhii and Maksym were delivering food to an animal shelter in Bucha (Kyiv) when Russian soldiers shot Maksym in the head as he was driving, then killed the others as they attempted to flee, one attempting in vain to shelter the other. A team of journalists worked tirelessly to identify the persons responsible; their story, along with those of the murdered civilians, is shared in “Bucha: Final Destination,” streaming below.
The documentary, although only 42 minutes long, is impossible to watch without being affected. Alexander Stratonov‘s score amplifies the drama while remaining in the background, stepping forth only occasionally, as in an effective moment when it beats in time to a clock. On its own, the score could be that of a major motion picture, beginning with the rising tension of the title track, a swirl of strings giving way to tentative piano notes before an approach of foreboding drums. The ticking clock can be heard at 2:00; the civilians don’t have much time.
And then immediately Stratonov takes a plunge into heartbreak, with two versions of “Mother’s Love,” one fully orchestrated and the other only strings. The stories of Nastia, Serhii and Maksym are told by those left behind, their grief personified by the piano and orchestra. The pause in the center is like the silence, the knowing, the hitting home. My child is dead. Every time the central phrase returns, the pain comes rushing back, a horrible memory on repeat.
“The Darkest Days” is swift and dramatic, as brief as the time elapsed in the killings. “Shots Fired” lurks like bad news received, but not yet delivered. “Lost in the Loop” returns to the clock; when the score is played on its own, one hopes that time is now closing in on the murderers as it did for their victims, a choir punctuating the sense of resolve, leading to a sudden end.
After this the sadness rushes in again, followed by “Identification,” an exciting conclusion in which the film reveals that the instigator of the massacre has been identified and later died in the conflict. This brings a small sense of closure, but not enough, as it is only one story in thousands. The hope is that this film and its powerful score will draw more attention to the inhumanity of the invasion and tilt the world’s empathy to a place of action. (Richard Allen)
Thank you, Richard, for such a great review! And thank you for spreading the word about atrocities that are being done in Ukraine every single day that this war is going. All Ukrainians appreciate every bit of support, so we won’t feel abandoned.
You are very welcome. We will keep the attention going. Evil must be confronted and we stand with Ukraine.