International Weirdness : “The Evidence From Bheem Bharsa” (A.K.A. “A Witch Hunt In Faridabad”)

Posted: May 7, 2017 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Let me know if this sounds more than just a bit familiar —

On May 24th, 2016, an unsolicited package arrived at the purported “offices” of a purported “production company” in New Delhi, India, called WPoV Films. The package contained a hard disc — as opposed to a flash drive — that featured disjointed and frankly mangled footage shot by an amateur filmmaker named Dhruv Vidur who, along with friends Sagar Joneja and Deepanshu Singh, headed out to a semi-remote wilderness area known variously as Faridabad and/or Bheem Bharsa in order to ascertain the truth behind stories that Dhruv’s father, Bhushan, had related to him since he was a boy about a (probably) mythical beast that haunts and terrorizes the region. The trio promptly disappeared and haven’t been seen, or heard from, since.

Yes, friends, no-budget horror filmmakers the world over are going the “found footage” route in order to sneak the many and obvious deficiencies inherent in their productions in through the back door marked “authenticity,” (it’s not just an “American thing”) and Indian writer/director Anurag Sikder has done his homework and ticked off every box on the stale “mockumentary” checklist. There ain’t a damn thing happening in his 2016 directorial debut, released under the titles The Evidence From Bheem Bharsa and A Witch Hunt In Faridabad, that you haven’t seen more times than you can count, and usually done with considerably more competence, if not outright skill. This time around about half the footage is in Hindi, which at least adds a little bit of variety to the proceedings, but beyond that, damn — been there, done that.

The “actors” are all presumably working under their real names, a shop-worn trope that dates back to The Blair Witch Project, and apparently don’t harbor much concern about bringing shame to their families, because not a one of them seems cut out for this racket. Over-emoting and painfully stunted line delivery are the competing orders of the day here, and when you combine performances of this “caliber” with Sikder’s way-too-shaky grasp on “shaky cam,” the result is a truly excruciating experience. I’ve been doing my very best to plumb the absolute depths of Amazon Prime’s “micro-budget” streaming horror offerings, and I think I may have finally hit rock bottom with this one — if there’s something worse out there (which, hey, there could be) I can honestly say I have no interest in seeing it. Even my masochism has its limits. “Why do you do this to yourself?” is certainly a fair question to ask at this point, but asking the director “why did you make it?” seems even more appropriate.

On the plus side, Sikder at least has the decency to end this never-should-have-been filmed fiasco at a downright merciful 44 minutes, but I should warn you — they may be the most painfully dull and awkward 44 minutes of your life. The Evidence From Bheem Bharsa is so woefully uninspired and derivative in every respect, the case ends up being that its sheer and staggering incompetence is the only thing that sets it apart from literally thousands of versions/variations of a damn-near-identical thing.

I guess it’s true what they say, after all : no matter where you go in the world, the story’s the same.

  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

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