‘Assault’ Review: A Deconstructed, Deadpan Thriller of Coal-Black Comedy and Ice-White Landscapes

If endless sequels, prequels, reboots, spin-offs, teamups, callbacks and shout-outs have put you off the idea of the “shared cinematic universe,” you haven’t been spending enough time in Karatas, world cinema’s smallest, wildest, weirdest crossover microcosm.

The fictional village in rural Kazakhstan, populated exclusively by the clueless, the cowardly, the comic and the corrupt has provided a stark, absurdist backdrop for most of prolific Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s films, including his newest, the dark, funny, freaky “Assault.”It may not be the most essential Yerzhanov entry — it’s not the darkest, funniest or freakiest — but “Assault” is a droll refresher on his singular sensibilities, and his borderline miraculous ability to maintain a coherent tone while narrative logic and consistency are highly expendable commodities.

Good taste, too, can be as casually tossed out as one of the stuttered insults that make up about 80 percent of the dialogue.


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