September 29, 2015

DVD Review: The Tribe (2015)
We have never before had the experience of seeing a movie which sign language to tell its story instead of the spoken word, and in that respect, The Tribe is one of the most interesting and different movies that we've ever seen. Director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky deserves a ton of credit for not only having the balls to try and make a movie in such a different way, but in being able to pull it off as well as he did.

The Tribe is the story of Sergey; he's the new kid at a school for the deaf who is quickly initiated into the school's ruling gang, where he and his new pals run around mugging people, pimping young girls out to truck drivers, beating people, stealing, and having sex. Sergey ends up getting the hots for one of the girls he pimps out, Anya, and they end up "dating" each other.

That's really all there is to the plot. We're not trying to be dicks about it, but that's pretty much what it is. This movie is far more about the experience than it is any sort of narrative... although the overall narrative is pretty important to that experience... at least thematically. I don't know. It's a different kind of flick.

The Tribe contains no spoken dialogue, its characters communicating via sign language only. There no subtitles or voiceover for the sign language either, so if you don't happen to be up on that particular brand of communication, then the movie will play for you as it did for us: as an almost silent movie of sorts.

It was a different sort of experience for us, watching a movie in which no one spoke. We probably missed a lot of plot development, and even nuance, throughout this one because of the our lack of understanding, though to his credit, director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky crafted this movie in a simple, straight-forward sort of a way, which actually allowed us to follow along with everything far easier than we ever though we'd be able to. After the first few minutes, the fact that everyone on screen was signing, and that we had no idea what they were saying to each other, didn't even register anymore.

The Tribe is a very violent and sexually explicit movie. There are multiple scenes of sex between teenagers; people get mugged, robbed, and brutally beaten; people get their heads caved in; there's a rape; and the ending was particularly WTF-inducing. Given the subject matter and mechanics of this movie, the scene with the truck backing up was pretty damned disturbing too.

Worst of all though, was the especially horrific back-alley abortion scene that was so fucking horrific, that we couldn't watch most of it. The fact that during that scene, we finally heard Anya's voice as she cried out in pain, made it even more horrific. Yes, we just used the word horrific three times in two sentences. Trust us, it's warranted.

We had two real issues with this movie:

One, is that there really isn't any story to follow. The Tribe plays as more of a snapshot of the daily life of Sergey and a few of his troubled classmates, which is fine, but it doesn't really go anywhere. In that way, it reminded us a lot of the 1995 movie, Kids.

The second issue, which is made worse by the first one, is that none of the characters in the movie are very likable or sympathetic. Most of the kids, including Sergey, exist to do nothing other than beat, rob, rape, pimp ,whore themselves, and kill. We couldn't even feel all that much for Sergey, as he just shows up to the school, joins the gang, and starts doing some horrible shit like he was joining the football team or something. We did manage to feel some sympathy for Anya, in two especially fucked up scenes, but even she seemed to take the horrible things that they were all doing in stride, as if it was commonplace.

Then again, maybe that was the point of the whole thing.

The Tribe is a great Arthouse Film that offers Horror fans plenty of realistic brutality, but not much in the way of story or character development. It's not a particularly enjoyable movie either, but it is one that makes a statement, and does so in a very powerful, bold, and unique way.

It won't be for everybody, and in fact, it may not even be for most people, but if you like experimental Arthouse movies that do something completely different from the norm, then it might just be for you.


The Tribe  is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.

Yana Novikova is one brave, brave actress.


  1. I can get behind the idea of doing a sign language movie, but not including a subtitle track......seems a bit off. Pretty much as douchey as a normal movie without a subtitle track for the hearing impaired.

  2. Not sure that I'll ever watch this, but I really like the way you are prepared to look outside the box for your definition of "horror". It's one of the things that keeps this site so interesting.

    Keep it going!

    1. Thanks, Oreb.

      If you don't look outside the box, you limit yourself, and things get boring pretty quickly. Horror is more dynamic than just hack-and-slash, and we're glad that it is :)