SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! Straight outta Macedonia, Kristijan Risteski’s strange Snow White Dies at the End is a comedic drama done in a non-sequential story structure (think Pulp Fiction). The official synopsis reads, “In a society where almost everybody farts backwards, six stubborn, proper-farting citizens pay a harsh price for being resolute to staying true to their own values.” We follow three groups of people who converge randomly together one night before separating again. There’s Snow White (Verica Nedeska), Bobby (Valentin Kostadinovski), Igor (David Janakiev), Maya (Natasha Petrovic), Gorazd (Sasko Kocev), Nikola (Ivica Dimitrijevic), and Deyan (Deniz Abdula). That’s seven characters, meaning one of them doesn’t fart properly.
The story starts on the night of the various groups initially meeting then jumps back a day earlier. Then we witness the rest of the original night, only to finish up three days later. The characters become more fleshed out as surprising details are revealed about them through each jump in time.
Also, as the viewer works their way through the whipped topping of comedy sprayed on the surface, they end up with some drama from the dark end of the spectrum. The labyrinthine structure of Snow White Dies at the End serves the richness of the story very well, with each reveal adding another level of appreciation. This is not an easy task, as a string of Tarantino imitators in the mid to late 1990s used the mixed-up structure as a gimmick to make a weak story look complicated. That is not the case here.
“…six stubborn, proper-farting citizens pay a harsh price…”
While the story’s specifics cannot be revealed without spoiling a lot, here are some of the more enticing elements at play. First, the whole story is told from the point of view of a fly. The viewer is literally a fly on a graffiti-covered wall. There is a syndrome experienced where words all have a different taste. There is a talking pig named Enzio who breaks the hearts of children. Someone shoots opiates into their penis. There is an argument over whether Joe D’Amato or Andrew Blake was the David Lynch of porno films (the answer is neither, the Lynch of porn is Rinse Dream). Finally, there is a talking toilet that grants wishes.
However, Snow White Dies at the End features no major instances of people farting backwards that I caught. And I was looking. I wanted to know whether farting backwards entailed sucking in air instead of blowing it out or if it was farting from your genitals instead. Maybe I missed a swift-moving subtitle or sound effect, but I didn’t see any wrong way wind breaking. I wasn’t disappointed, though, as the surprises and the dimension of the characters more than make up for the lure that drew you in.
The production value is high, and the movie is very good looking. Risteski can sniff out the glimmering weird in dull normality like a pig hunting truffles. The excellent cinematography of Sevdije Kastrati and Dimo Popov bring Macedonia after dark to glowing life. The ensemble cast is fantastic, with everyone able to fulfill their duties to the comedy but not at the expense of the drama. Nedeska and Petrovic, in particular, get to show some very believable depth. The bizarre flourishes enhance the experience without hijacking the foundation. It is a story told by a common fly in an uncommon way with unusual results.
The misfit core of the movie shines brightest here, as it is a parade of people who usually don’t appear in films or even in public. Snow White Dies at the End is like a Christmas present that has several layers of wrapping paper, each having weirder and weirder patterns. Be warned; the gift may bite you. Or fart backwards.
"…bizarre flourishes enhance the experience without hijacking the foundation."
I was also baffled by the film synopsis (both in IMDb and on the Slamdance site). It’s a pity because my husband was turned off by the flatulence themes but would have really enjoyed this character study.