Monday, February 20th, 2012 10:18 am
Allison-Yash experiment works; ‘?’ scares to the core
It is rare for horror in Bollywood to not appear horrific in ways that the genre was never meant to be. More often than not, horror films in India rely on stock shock treatment – creaking doors, heart-pounding, background music, startling sound effects… you name it!
Here is the real thing. Stripped of all cinematic trappings, this uniquely titled horror film is so edgy, it topples you over into the abyss of the absolutely unknown, that no-man’s land where inexplicable phenomena fuel a kind of terror that cannot be wished away by switching off the camera.
This one doesn’t assuage your fears by the claim, ‘Oh well, it was just a movie.’
Scary to the core, the terror of watching a group of bright young film students’ endeavour to make a horror film turn into a living nightmare, is done with such a high level of authenticity that you end up watching the pre-determined progression of the plot with a sense of growing dread at the pit of your stomach.
The ‘found footage’ technique of presenting the horror genre as an on-the-spot live reportage of the chilling events, is effectively applied. The film has no crew and cast details to provide.
We are expected to believe that the young people we see as a film crew in the film, shot the footage of their own activities in the jungle before their lives were snuffed by unknown unseen, but definitely evil forces.
The footage is conveniently jerky, hazy and uneven. The ‘found footage’ format gives the presentation a licence to be as freewheeling in intent and as askew in its purpose as the hand-camera permits. As the characters are waylaid by unknown unseen evil, we feel the approaching footsteps of diabolic terror.
The narrative has an arresting momentum. From the time we see the happy-go-lucky team driving to the forest to the bloodcurdling pre-finale and finale occurrences, the narration gets you by your throat and squeezes it hard.
This whammy of a shiver-giver takes the horror genre down an unknown path. The fear of the unknown has seldom seemed more palpable. When we use the phrase, ‘There’s something out there’ we generally apply the sense of foreboding to a cinematic approach to terror whereby finally we know, we can go home safe in the knowledge that the supernatural exists only in cinema.
This film offers no such solace. Full credit to the footage collectors Yash and Allison for cracking the oft-abused genre of horror so effectively.
Film: “?: A Real Life Experience”;
Director: Allison Patel-Yash Dave;
Rating: *** (3/5)
– By Subhash K. Jha