Viy (2014 film)

Viy 3D (Russian: Вий, internationally known as Forbidden Empire, and in the UK as Forbidden Kingdom) is a 2014 fantasy film produced by Russian and Ukraine Film Group and Marins Group Entertainment and loosely based on the Nikolai Gogol story of the same name. The film was released in cinemas in Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan on 30 January 2014, in the United States on 22 May 2015 and in the United Kingdom on 1 June 2015.

Viy official poster 2014.jpg
English film poster
Directed byOleg Stepchenko
Produced byAlexander Culicov
Leonid Ogorodnikov
Alexey A. Petrukhin
Sergey Sozanovskiy
Written byAleksandr Karpov
Oleg Stepchenko
Based onViy
by Nikolai Gogol
Music byAnton Garcia
CinematographyVladimír Smutný
Edited byOleg Stepchenko
Russian Film Group
Мarins Group Entertainment
Distributed byNBC Universal Russia
Release date
  • 30 January 2014 (2014-01-30) (Russia)
Running time
130 minutes
  • Russia
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Ukraine
  • Germany
Budget$18.5 million
Box office$38.9 million[2]

The film is directed by Oleg Stepchenko, based on the first manuscript of Nikolai Gogol. The film has been in production since December 2005 and stopped several times due to lack of funding. In October 2012, the filming was completed.[3] Viy was a huge commercial success, even breaking a record for opening weekend in Russia, but was met with mixed reviews in media.[1]


Early-18th-century cartographer Jonathan Green undertakes a scientific voyage from Western Europe to the East. Having passed through Transylvania and crossed the Carpathian Mountains, he finds himself in a small village lost in impassable woods of Ukraine. Nothing but chance and heavy fog could bring him to this cursed place. People who live here do not resemble any other people which the traveler saw before that. The villagers, having dug a deep moat to fend themselves from the rest of the world, share a naive belief that they could save themselves from evil, failing to understand that evil has made its nest in their souls and is waiting for an opportunity to gush out upon the world.



In 2006, Russian producer Alexey Petrukhin and Russian director Oleg Stepchenko decided that they wanted to make a film based on the horror story of Viy by Nikolai Gogol. By then, two other projects based on Gogol's tale were in production, such as Taras Bulba film from 2009 and The Witch from 2006.[4]

In order to secure the title, they needed without any further delay to release the information on the forthcoming project. In the course of three days, they filmed a teaser trailer where the role of Khoma Brutus was played by Petrukhin himself. Only after that did the active production of the film begin. When the teaser was shown in theaters, the script was not yet written and the actors were not cast. The story kept growing and changing until it turned from a simple screen version into a big-budget fantasy thriller.[5][6]

The authors understood that the new times set new rules, so in 2011 they made a difficult but very important decision: they decided re-shoot the picture in 3D, even though half of the footage was already filmed. Conversion was out of the question. The decision to re-shoot was not just a PR trick. The re-shooting was taken seriously—the producers developed an innovative technology that had no parallels in the world.[7]

Viy is an intersection of two storylines. One is the narrative from Nikolai Gogol's horror story. The writers used the first edition of the story still untouched by Belinskiy's proofs. The original version has quite different motifs and the whole narrative focuses on a different kind of drama. What's more important, this version abounds in secrets and riddles.[8] Thus, Gogol's immortal story will be screened without cuts. The second storyline is centered on a real person—Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan (1595–1685)—a French traveler and cartographer who was the first to study the Ukrainian territories and their people and culture. His research is included in the book From Transylvania to Muscovy. The producers chose his figure because he was also the first to collect and systematize under one cover Slavic myths and legends. De Beauplan was a prototype of the film's main character—Jonathan Green.[1]

Filming locationsEdit

The castle in England where Green sets out on his journey is doubled in the film by the Czech Sychrov Castle. Despite being a few hundred years old—it was built in 1693—it is the newest castle in the Czech Republic. The legend goes that somewhere in the dungeons of the castle is hidden a treasure guarded by a "Black Lady", a woman dressed in a black gown of mourning. In order to make her figure even scarier, some storytellers began calling the lady of the castle "the Black Widow".[9]


Several actors were considered for the lead role of Jonathan Green: Vincent Cassel, Christian Slater, Tim Roth, Sean Bean, Keanu Reeves, Pierce Brosnan, and Jason Statham.[1]

Special effectsEdit

The film is shot in real 3D. Stereoscopic design of the film was done by the German company Stereotec.[10]

The producer, Alexei Petrukhin, said that originally the film was supposed to be stereoscopic. The scenes that were filmed during the first shooting period (about 20 minutes) were filmed in 2D and postconverted to 3D (in particular, episodes of Pannochka's funeral in the church were filmed that way). In 2011 the production decided to cooperate with Stereotec[11] for the rest of the movie, a worldwide-operating, Munich-based 3D company. The rest of the picture (the remaining 2 hours) was shot [12] with special 3D rigs from Stereotec and Cameras from ARRI in native 3D.[13]


The announced release date was 12 March 2009 which was timed for the 200th anniversary of Nikolai Gogol, but it was postponed indefinitely since then. After they finished shooting the first film of the trilogy, the producers decided to postpone the premiere until the work on the second film, Viy 2 («Вий-2. Проклятое место»), is complete.[1]

In April 2012, according to the official website of the trilogy, a new estimated release date was set as 2013. On 15 May 2013, as part of the Cannes Film Festival, RFG representatives has signed an agreement with Universal Pictures, to take part in production as a distribution company. The film finally appeared in theaters on 30 January 2014.[1]


Box officeEdit

The first weekend take was 605.2 million rubles (some $17+ million), which was an all-time record for a Russian movie at the time.[14] It grossed US$34 million in Russia.[15]

Critical responseEdit

Reception of the film was mixed. According to Russian reviews aggregator Kritikanstvo, Viy holds an approval rating of 57%, based on 39 reviews.[16]

Yury Gladilshchikov in The Moscow News gave a positive review, although he noted that the film lacks target audience, since it is too intellectual for mass production and too simple for educated audience. He also unfavorably compared it with the Sleepy Hollow by Tim Burton.[17]

Mir Fantastiki magazine was more positive about the movie and even named it the best Russian science fiction/fantasy movie of 2014.[18]

Home mediaEdit

Theatrical releaseEdit

Viy was released on VHS and DVD on June 2014.[1]

Blu-ray editionEdit

The theatrical Blu-ray version of Viy dubbed to English was released in the United States in May 2015.[1]


On 5 April 2015, a press conference was held in InterContinental Hotel in Moscow with producers Alexey Petrukhin and Sergei Selyanov. Actors Jason Flemyng and Charles Dance reprise their roles, with Rutger Hauer and Anna Yo joining. During the conference, it was confirmed that the filming of the sequel, titled Viy 2: Journey to China, has been started.[19] The movie was partially shot in China and received help from the Jackie Chan Stunt Team, stunt coordinator He Jun, and operator Man-Ching Ng. The film debuted in China in August 2019.[20]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h История создания. Часть 1 Вий 3D
  2. ^ "Viy 3D (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  3. ^ Закончились съемки фильма "Вий" 3D, The filming of "Viy 3D" completed, Inter Channel, April 2012, (in Russian)
  4. ^ "«Вий»: в меру страшный и очень современный — 30 Января 2014 — Газета «Наша Шумиха»". Archived from the original on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
  5. ^ Монгайт. «ВИЙ» В 3D: Гоголь перевернется в гробу. Часть 1
  6. ^ Ведомости. Панночка с последующим разоблачением. Денис Корсаков
  7. ^ «Вий» выйдет в прокат 23 января 2014 года
  8. ^ получила жалобу на скрытую рекламу водки в фильме «Вий»
  9. ^ Монгайт. «ВИЙ» В 3D: Гоголь перевернется в гробу. Часть 1
  10. ^ Stereotec brought Viy to the New Level
  11. ^, Stereotec shooting "Viy 3D", January 2014
  12. ^ "Interview with Florian Maier about 3D Certification and shooting the Russian 3D feature "Viy"". Archived from the original on 2012-03-18. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  13. ^ Фильмы недели: «Август», «Вий», «9 месяцев строгого режима». Милослав Чемоданов. 31 января 2014
  14. ^ Вий" побил кассовый рекорд "Сталинграда (in Russian). 3 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  15. ^ Scott Roxborough (2014-12-22). "Box Office: 8 International Hits That Challenged the Studio Tentpoles". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2014-12-22.
  16. ^ Оценки и рецензии на фильм "Вий" (2014)
  17. ^ Gladilshchikov, Yury (31 January 2014). Гоголь-моголь (in Russian). The Moscow News. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  18. ^ Лаборатория фантастики. Премия «Итоги года» от журнала «Мир Фантастики»
  19. ^ "VIY 2 -- JOURNEY TO CHINA 2014". Rutger Hauer. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  20. ^ "Journey to China: The Mystery of Iron Mask (Viy 2)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 21, 2019.

External linksEdit