All posts filed under: Horror

TUMBBAD (Dir. Rahi Anil Barve, Adesh Prasad, India/Sweden, 2018)

A bewitching and meaty horror with an elemental sensibility, Tumbbad uses the archetypal Indian trope of the Mother Goddess to give us a perennial treatise on greed. Tumbbad’s tactile and sensory approach recalls atmospheric films like The Keep (1983) and Sorcerer (1977), combining the supernatural, mythology and history into something deeply atavistic. The expressionistic use of ancient landscapes juxtaposed to the tumultuous weather (it rains a lot!), particularly in the opening section, gives the film an unsettling Herzogian timbre. The narrative unfolds over a number of decades and is segmented into chapters, beginning in 1918 (?), imbuing the film with a historical arc that augments the ambitious scale of the production. Tumbbad reunites the talents of Soham Shah and Anand Gandhi who both collaborated on the seminal Hindie film Ship of Theseus in 2012. Recently screened at the Venice Film Festival, the film’s arrival coincides with a growing interest in the horror genre in Indian independent cinema that bodes well for what should be an international release. Advertisements

THE KEEP (Dir. Michael Mann, 1983, US) – Atmospheric Exegesis

Given Mann’s consolidation as perhaps American cinema’s greatest film auteur does a film like The Keep hold any bearing on his reputation today? What can the film tell us about Mann that we don’t already know? The Keep is the film that Mann has rarely acknowledged. It had a troubled production history and Mann’s original 3 hour plus rough-cut was eventually submitted as a 2-hour version. As a result of negative test screenings, Paramount took to cutting the film down to 96 minutes, all without Mann’s consent. One can certainly reason why Mann has sort of disowned the film. Apparent from the studio cut is the incoherence of the narrative structure and although I would argue logic is not a necessity for a narrative to function and communicate, here one can readily notice sequences have been excised purely for a cruel commercial necessity. This is no way makes the film’s narrative difficult to follow but one wonders at the logic of Mann’s greater narrative design. Nonetheless, The Keep is still an inexplicably mesmeric work as …

NH10 (Dir. Navdeep Singh, 2015, India) – Hindie Urbanoia

The quartet of Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Madhu Mantena and Vikas Bahl founded Phantom Films in 2011. Since then Phantom has produced a notable slate of Hindie films with differing mainstream sensibilities. Films such as Lootera, Queen and Ugly have featured popular Indian film stars. This has been balanced out with edgy scripts, new directors, genre vagaries and unconventional narratives. NH10 released this year, holds comparably interesting ideas, although not everything gels cohesively as it should. The narrative involves a young, urban middle class Indian couple, Meera (Anushka Sharma) and Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam) who reside in Bangalore. One day, Arjun takes Meera on a road journey to a villa he has rented for her birthday. However, en route they become entangled in some of the more unsavoury politics of rural India such as an honour killing. Some critics have suggested the parallels with a contemporary British horror film Eden Lake, which is evident in some respects, but at work here is the concept of urbanoia that typically pits middle class urbanites against the treachery of …

THE TURIN HORSE (Bela Tarr, 2011, Hungary) – The Wind

Bela Tarr’s last film could just as easily be retitled ‘The Wind’. Labels such as slow cinema insist we look at films in a certain way but here is another theory that seems to have run its course, duly causing a backlash. There is no denying for a film lasting over two hours and thirty minutes Tarr is preoccupied with real time, not screen time. If this is supposed to be the end, the apocalypse, then everything becomes distilled to the point of abstraction. Tarr relies on primal, ethereal textures so that we can taste the potatoes that they eat, feel the ferocity of the howling wind that envelops the house like some demonic possession and smell the pestilence ravaging the bodies of the exhausted man and his servile daughter. I’m inclined to say The Turin Horse is a film about textures. The perpetual storm, framed as an unholy harbinger is accentuated by the wind, an apocryphal force. Tarr’s strategy of repeating daily actions ritualises ordinariness to the point of exasperation. Amidst this routine enacted …