Wednesday, October 28, 2015

31 Days, 31 Horror Movies: 6-5=2

I found myself thinking that I hadn't watched any found footage movies this thread. It seemed like every other movie last year was found-footage (it wasn't). After Kwaidan I was also thinking that I'd seen a few Japanese horror movies, plenty of Italian horror movies, Spanish, British, Korean, Swedish, Australian, French - even a Venezuelan horror movie. I hadn't seen an Indian horror movie, though.

So when Amazon offered up a found footage Indian horror movie it seemed like exactly what I was looking for. Which is how I ended up watching:


Unfortunately, it's not very good. It has all the bad tropes of the found-footage genre without adding much in the way of fresh angles - other than the beautiful landscape. A group of young people - four guys and two girls - head out into the mountainous rural landscape of southern India. One of them is training to be a cinematographer (A DOP, or Director of Photography, as he often says), which explains the camera. Spooky things happen. Some of them die. One makes it back alive and the film is supposedly built around the footage from the camera guy, showing what happened to the rest.

The problems start off right away. For one thing,  the whole movie is dubbed. It's still in Hindi - they just redid everyone's dialogue. That immediately removes the feeling that this is the actual footage. It's also often flat in inflection, which you often get when people are having to redo lines in the studio. The cinematography is also far too good for a found footage film. That's okay at first, but as things get worse and worse the footage should also start being... I dunno, less centered, less in focus, less professional. And it's slow - god it's slow. It takes nearly 45 minutes before anything really interesting happens (a spooky tree hung with skulls and dolls) and another 20-30 before it really starts to get going.

The actors are okay - in the sense that they each have a distinct character that is consistently portrayed - and some of the early scenes are quite funny in a 'young people giving each other a hard time' sort of way. However there's just too much of them goofing off and ragging on each other. They just talk and talk and don't say much. It seems like a third of their dialogue is in English - but it doesn't always match the terrible subtitles. I almost wished I could have turned the subtitles off - I think I could have figured out 90% of what they were saying without it. (And, like I said, it didn't always seem to go with what was being said.)
The actual horror movie bits are a combination of Blair Witch Project noises and weird things in trees added to some Paranormal Activity poltergeist action and actors making weird motions as the camera watches everyone sleep. Very little of it is scary (a moving doll, a suddenly violent character, some distant noises) and it doesn't all fit together. Is it a ghost, a demon, a forest spirit? They could all fit, or none. I'm going with demon - there's a weird claw-print that shows up on someone's back and some possession-related shenanigans.

I went looking for the cast list and found that the version I watched is actually the Bollywood remake. The original film was made even more cheaply made in the Kannada language. I wish I'd actually seen that one, as cheap/raw sometimes enhances the found footage aspect of a film.

I can't really recommend it - though it has a few bright spots in cinematography and sound design.

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