Skip to main content
The Independent Critic

Ekaterina Dar, Elizaveta Shulyak, Lilit Karapetyan, Diana Galimzyanova
Diana Galimzyanova
96 Mins.

 Movie Review: Plan 9 From Aliexpress 
Add to favorites

Tatar filmmaker Diana Galimzyanova's latest film Plan 9 from Aliexpress is the kind of film that we'd absolutely love to explain. 

Give it up.

As film journalists, we constantly try to ascribe meaning when, at times, the filmmaker isn't necessarily going for meaning. Such is the case with veteran filmmaker Galimzyanova. Galimzyanova calls herself the first female Russian filmmaker to ever direct a film noir, an effort she made with her last film The Lightest Darkness. While I'm not sure the title actually fits, it's a grand title indeed and I'm far too lazy to venture out to prove it wrong. 

Besides, Galimzyanova is rather charming. 

With Plan 9, the now Moscow-based filmmaker and video artist has crafted a Pythonesque fantasy of sorts about an unstable Gothic Princess (played at various points by Ekaterina Dar, Elizaveta Shulyak, andLilit Karapetyan) who aspires to die by suicide only to have Prince Charming (Anton Medov) steal her rope. We spend the better part of the next 96 minutes following our Princess as she tries to get her rope back so she can end her life. Her journey includes increasingly absurd encounters with the likes of an evil wizard, vampire detectives, werewolf detectives, a serial killer, an alien, a Centaur, a mermaid, and even a zombie unicorn among others. 

It would be easy to dismiss Plan 9 as over-the-top absurdism. That's not quite right.

It would be easy to also ascribe way too much meaning to Plan 9. That's also not quite right. 

I'm convincd there is meaning to be found inside the cinematic walls of a film that offers Hollywood history easte eggs amidst its remarkably thoughtful and intelligent visual narrative. This is a film where everything that unfolds actually matters, from the seemingly nonsensical dialogue to the fascinating imagery to the interplay between the characters along the way. Plan 9 may have taken its title from a piece of Hollywood schlock, however, rest assured that there's nothing truly schlocky here. Galimzyanova knows exactly what she's doing and it's fascinating to watch it unfold. 

Watching our Gothic Princess as she interacts with and relates to the world around her is both absurdist and occasionally quite profound. It helps that the three actresses portraying her are all quite remarkable in their own right and it's clear that everyone in this ensemble aligned with Galimzyanova's unique vision. 

While I can't help but ascribe some meaning to the film, I'm also acutely aware that Plan 9 is a very fascinating and funny film. I couldn't help but notice that amidst a world where most of what we know, especially here in the U.S., about Russia is from the media it's rather remarkable to watch Galimzyanova's film come to life with its variety of locales, images, and often quite touching (and funny) scenes. 

Original music by Kirill King is effective and vibrant throughout Plan 9 and the team of over a dozen cinematographers for the film helps to create a tapestry of delightful weirdness and cinematic confusion. Kudos as well for Katya Refenstahl's inspired costume design, Irina Gevorgyan makeup, and special effects by Ekaterina Afirekova with AI design by Valeria Titova. 

It's incredibly likely that you won't see another film like Plan 9 from Aliexpress this year. It's also incredibly likely that if you see the film you won't soon forget it. While Plan 9 from Aliexpress isn't a film for everyone, for those who can open themselves to the more experimental end of cinema you will be richly rewarded. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic