Fantasia 2021 – Sweetie You Won’t Believe It

By Naomi Roper

Das (Daniar Alshinov), is a man who is both late on his loan payments and keen to escape his heavily pregnant wife  Zhanna (Asel Kaliyeva).  Das ditches the understandably furious Zhanna and sets off on a fishing trip with his two buddies Arman (Azamat Marklenov) and Murat (Erlan Primbetov) to find himself. They travel in a camper van full of defective sex toys and blow-up dolls. But when they inadvertently witness a group of inept gangsters murder someone their trip gets a whole lot more complicated. Especially when a crazed killer starts hunting down the gangsters…

Directed and co-written by Ernar Nurgaliev, Sweetie You Wouldn’t Believe It is a fast-paced and entertaining black comedy.  Ordinarily, I would side-eye films where literally the only female character is an annoying shrew (although dear god I’d be annoying too if that was my husband) but there is something so goofily silly about this Kazakhstan comedy that it is difficult to take offence.

Das, Arman and Murat are really not the best that mankind has to offer and they know it. Das is henpecked but also wildly immature and completely unprepared to be a father. The other two are also not shining examples of masculinity who are more than happy to kidnap the expectant father and whisk him away from his responsibilities for a spot of fishing. The fact that all three turn out to be so bad at fishing they injure themselves horribly adds to the laughs and is a precursor to the carnage to come.

 The theme of fragile masculinity continues with the gangsters. The youngest son is portrayed as weak due to his love of dance and his tendency to faint at the sight of blood (a gag stretched to breaking point – still funny though). The gangster brothers fight over who has killed more people and all of them want the respect of their father (which they will clearly never get). The gangsters are comfortably trumped in the “manly man” stakes by the one-eyed psycho killer who doesn’t care about anything but his steely mission to slaughter them all. He’s an implacable Terminator, someone who can’t be dissuaded because he is given no humanity. He is just a killing machine. 

Speaking of kills for such a daffy comedy this boasts some spectacularly gruesome death scenes. Gorehounds will be very impressed at the one-eyed killer’s work here as he dispatches people in increasingly unpleasant ways.

Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It is silly, gory, undemanding fare which hilariously skewers the fragility of the male ego.  They had me from the moment one of Das’s daft friends builds a boat from blow-up sex dolls. It would be a great late-night watch. 

Related: Fantasia 2021: Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched Review

Sweetie You Won’t Believe It has its Canadian premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival and is available on demand.