“Mathew 19:14″, by Aleksandr Domogarov. A.K.A ” The Russian Dollar Baby with evil kids”

Mathew 19:14 (Pustite Detey)


Before I start talking about this amazing Russian Dollar Baby, let me talk about Dollar Babies that everyone can watch on-line.

I love Stephen King’s work (I believe almost everyone who follows this website does). I also love movies, series, comic books and theater plays based upon any of King’s work. And I love Dollar Babies! Writing about Dollar Babies has been amazing. But lately I’ve been experiencing some mixed feelings about these reviews, because since most Dollar Babies are not available so everyone can watch it, I kind of feel that maybe I am the only one having fun with these reviews. Because, once you are not able to watch a movie that I wrote about with so much passion, I started to think that maybe you guys will someday get tired of it. Because if you only read about Dollar Babies, maybe you will never be able to watch it, so you have no choice but to trust the writer when he says that some Dollar Baby is awesome.

So I started to think about writing reviews for some Dollar Babies that are on-line. But there was another problem: The Dollar Baby Deal for bid filmmakers to share their adaptations on-line, so most of them aren’t on YouTube for instance. Of course, there are many filmmakers that don’t care about it and share their Dollar Babies anyway. And we should be glad for it.

But I do confess that I used to have some prejudice against Dollar Babies that are on-line. And before I explain why I don’t have this prejudice anymore, I will explain why I used to be such a jerk.

Since I do have my own Dollar Baby, “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away”, and I do respect Mr. King’s rules of not posting on-line, I was always kind of suspicious about Dollar Babies that we can find on-line. “Why aren’t they afraid of Stephen King’s lawyers?”, I used to think. “Why are they facing a possible lawsuit?”. So I watched them. Some of them I liked and some of them I didn’t. And after I had the chance of not only watching on-line Dollar Baby festivals but also having my own film festival, I started to think that “the best Dollar Babies are not on-line”. Yes, once again I admit that I was being a jerk.

But when I joined the SKSM team, Bernd and Óscar showed me how wrong I was by pointing out great Dollar Babies that we can find on-line. So now I am not that jerk that I used to be, but not just because someone pointed out how stupid I used to be, but I finally understood by myself that the way I used to think was a stupid prejudice of mine. SKSM pointed me to so many great Dollar Babies that we can find on YouTube or Vimeo. Two of them were so good that I even got them screened at my film festival.

Besides being able to watch great Dollar Babies on-line, I realized that I forgot, as a filmmaker, that I also want people to have the chance to watch my work. We filmmakers make movies so we can express our feelings and it is unfair not being able to share a work that we gave so much blood and tears to. No matter if people will like it or not, we should have the chance to let them choose to watch it and decide if they like it or not.

So now I would like to say to every single filmmaker in here that has a Dollar Baby on-line that I am sorry that I used to think and say that “the best Dollar Babies are not on-line”. Although some of the best Dollar Babies I have so far watched are not on-line, every single short movie should have the chance to be watched! As a King fan, I wish that everyone could watch every single Dollar Baby that was ever made. That is the only bad thing about the Dollar Baby Deal.

I would like to thank every filmmaker that shares their Dollar Babies on-line. Thank you for your courage to share it on-line even with the possibility of a Lawsuit! I wish I was that brave, but I will not take my chances, cause I would hate to meet Mr. King’s lawyers. But one thing I can and will do: I will start to write about some Dollar Babies that we can all find on-line, so I can not only share with you guys a great short movie but so I can also give you the chance to agree with me or not. And if you don’t, that is ok too, that is the beauty of it. Let’s talk about it, please. That being said, let me start to talk about not only a great Dollar Baby that everyone can watch on-line,  but also one of the greatest Dollar Babies I have ever watched!

Mathew 19:14 (Pustite Detey)

Based upon the story “Suffer the Little Children”, this Russian adaptation has so many good things to talk about that I can’t even choose one. Let me start from the beginning, the title: Mathew 19:14. It is a passage from the bible, I knew that, but I could not remember what it said. 

So I looked for it and I found out that it was something that Jesus said: “Let the Little Children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”.

Cool, right? But, let me make another confession: I did not understand when I read it the first time, because I am not the religious kind of guy, I am not used to the words of the Good Book. But I did want to understand that before I could start writing this review. So there I was,  trying to understand what the Son of God meant with that. What I did understand (thank you Google) was that He was trying to reach out to a segment of society that was thought to be kind and insignificant. Jesus wanted to teach us that children, in their weakness and vulnerability, have a lot to teach us as adults. Because as we grow, the hardness of the world often makes our hearts callous.

Ok, I understood. But now maybe you are wondering why the director named the Dollar Baby after that. If you do know the original story, think about it and you will understand. If not, I will try to explain it to you with not so many spoilers.

This Dollar Baby is about a teacher, a very respected and feared teacher, that always had control of her class and her students. But now something is wrong, she can feel it. Maybe her students aren’t her students anymore. Is she right about it or is she going insane? That is the only thing I will say about the title and the synopsis of this adaptation, because more than that would spoil the fun for you. But let me assure you that the screenwriter was a genius at choosing the title for this Dollar Baby.

And let me tell you guys about the screenplay: it is one of the best adapted screenplays of a story from Stephen King I have ever watched. The original story is such a simple story and the screenwriter did respect that too: it is about a teacher who is questioning her own sanity. She doesn’t know if she is right about her suspicions or if she is going insane. There are not so many layers to this story, it is just an old school horror story in a way that Stephen King shows us why he is also known as a master of horror. It is a cool horror story and the Russian guys made a really scary Dollar Baby of it.

In this story there are some traps that maybe a screenwriter would be tempted to step on while adapting it, I know, I would. I would like to make it even scarier, having even more make-up effects and more evil kids, but that would be a mistake. Because in this adaptation everything is in the right proportion: how much it tells us and when they tell us, how much they scare us and (most important of all) when they scare us. Nothing is too much in this Dollar Baby, it is just an old school scare movie. And that says a lot about its quality, because since I started to watch Dollar Babies I confess that I have never watched one that really scared me. They are all good Dollar Babies, they all have something that might scare someone in the audience, but none of them really scared me. But this Russian Dollar Baby did! And the way the screenwriter wrote this Dollar Baby is just one of the reasons why I got scared.

I love scary movies (“What is your favorite scary movie, Sidney?”, said Ghost Face) and while I was watching “Mathew 19:14” I got the impression that Aleksandr Domogarov (the director) also love scary movies, because I got so many movie references in there: The Grudge, The Ring, Get out, and most important and obvious of all, ” The Village of the Damned“. The original story also reminded me “The Village of the Damned” and I think I once read something that King said about that movie from the 60ths, so If I am right he definitely has this movie as a reference too.

But let me get back about “Mathew 19:14” and the references I saw: there are some scenes that obviously are homages. And for a fan it is so cool. I was like that Leonardo Dicaprio meme pointing “That is from “Get out”! That is from “The Ring” AND “The Grudge”!

But beyond the homages, I could relate this Dollar Baby with those movies in another aspect: Besides the fact that all those movies are so damned good, what do they all have in common? Great sound design and awesome soundtracks. And this Russian movie is also great at that too. I remember the first time I watched “The Ring” in a movie theater and I realized then that the sound effects and the soundtrack were the scariest tool that the director had in that movie. No, it was not Samara, but how loud the sound was combined with a great sound design and damned good soundtrack. In some movies we get scared even before we actually see something on the screen because of those two elements, because the soundtrack gradually creates the mood so you may be almost crap in your pants. And then BAM!!!! A sound that might eliminate the word “almost” from that previous sentence. 

We have that in “Mathew 19:14” too. But not just scary sounds at the right time, but all the sounds in this movie are so well planned: at the first scene the birds outside the classroom, the electronic buzz of the digital clock, the teacher’s footsteps, all those sounds so loud and clear helps us understand how that teacher is well respected by her students, because in a class full of children we can almost hear a fly flapping its wings. No sound of the children. Until we hear a single laugh… And this is just one example of how the sound design impressed me, but there are so many others, every single sound in this movie was clearly well planned, not just well recorded.

The locations and scenarios too, man, they were great. The school has that old architecture that also helps create the right mood we all love in scary movies: old but not falling apart, in a way that It looks rotten, but not in a dirty way, just old and worn out. The cinematography works very well exploring the scenarios of that location in particular, we almost get lost trying to look at every corner at this beautiful old school.

There are some other great moments of the cinematography in this Dollar Baby, but one in particular made me rewind and watch it again a few times: when the camera deceives us while the teacher is holding a gun. Man, that was one of those moments that made me as a filmmaker, first think “well written” and then “what a great cinematographer! May I have his phone number, please?”.

The art design at “Mathew 19:14” is also something we should applaud. It was also very well planned and executed at the school and at the teacher’s house, there are so many little details in both scenarios. In the teacher’s house for instance, the art design worked so well that it helps us better understand the teacher: in the original short story she was an old single lady, but in this version of “Suffer the Little Children” the art design show us (in such a subtle way) that the teacher is now a widow. And it is revealed to us not just showing an old photo, but also the double bed where she lies down at one specific side of it. A double bed with 2 pillows and she just uses one. This scene also gives us a feeling of solitude that helps us create empathy with the teacher’s character, something that King himself did not make me feel by reading.

By the way, let’s talk some more about the teacher, Lubov Arkadyevna, for a while: I already watched some other versions of this story, I already saw other versions of the teacher’s character, but not as well written as this one. And with all due respect to all the other actresses who played this role before, but Tatyana Kuznetsova nailed this movie. She was just the perfect old teacher going insane. There are remarkable scenes of her and for me one of the greatest was not the final clash between her and the evil student, although she was great at this scene too. But if I had to choose only one scene it would be her last scene in the movie, man… At that scene Tatyana Kuznetsova shows us at first tenderness, but later we see her falling into despair in such a perfect way. I wish I could speak Russian so I could express to her how much I enjoyed her acting. Luckily the only thing I do know to say in Russian is also a way to express what I felt after watching her acting: Спасибо (Spasibo) I could keep talking about this Dollar Baby for a while, but not only my English is kind of limited to keep finding the words I need to express how I loved this Dollar Baby, but also for the very first time at this review section of SKSM I am now able to invite you, Constant Reader, to watch this Russian Dollar Baby yourself and draw your own conclusions. I promise that you won’t regret it, it is a great movie based upon a great story by Stephen King.

The Dollar Baby’s grade? We from SKSM give Aleksandr Domogarov’s “Mathew 19:14” , 5 fingers from the dead guy’s hand!!!!!  Spasibo!!!!

You can view this Russian Dollar Baby here on our site. (This is linked to Youtube) For those who don’t understand Russian, there are English subtitles added.

If you watch the dollar baby I will ask only one thing  : please come back here at Stephen King Short Movies and share your conclusions with us. We will love to read your thoughts too.

That is it for today , Constant Readers. See you next time. Spasibo

Leonardo Granado

P.S” Would you like to know what I am going to do right now? I am going to watch ” The Village of the Damned“, the original version. I only know the John Carpenter version with Christopher Reeve, but this Dollar Baby got me in the mood to watch the original one for the first time. That is the beauty of good horror movies: some of them always make us want to watch another one.

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