Halloween On Amazon Prime 2017 : “Islamic Exorcist”

Posted: October 14, 2017 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Well, shit — if the title of writer/director Faisal Saif’s early-2017 Indian horror Islamic Exorcist isn’t enough to grab you, then I don’t know what more it takes. But is there anything more to this film beyond an arresting name? Thanks to Amazon Prime’s streaming service, I’m pleased to report that I’m able to answer that question —

Before we get to all that, though, the basics : intrepid journalist Natasha Choudhary (played by an actress who goes only by the name of Meera) has taken a keen interest in a local family tragedy, that of Ayesha Khan (Kavita Radheshyam) and her husband, Sameer (Nirab Hossain), who adopted an infant child named Anna after Ayesha’s sole pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. The couple had plenty of love to give, and seemed to be getting ahead financially, so it looked like many fulfilling years were in store for one and all — and who knows? Maybe there were some good times — but lo and behold,  Sameer ended up claiming that Anna was possessed by a demon and shooting her through the head.

There’s at least some money behind this production, and it shows : a nicely creepy incidental music score, appropriately gloomy and  borderline-unearthly lighting,  artistically-composed shots, and fairly competent practical and CGI effects that enhance the film rather than serving as its backbone are all welcome and appreciated feathers in Saif’s cap, but it’s his strong script and uniformly good cast that really make the difference here.

Admittedly, this is a slow-moving story, but it’s quite expertly constructed, with Saif alternating between his present-day investigation and flashbacks that “fill in” the many intriguing “blanks” that worm their way into the backs of our minds from the outset. Characters are fully fleshed-out and all evince a reasonable amount of complexity (with one major exception, which I’ll get to momentarily), the progression of events unfolds with an admirable amount of tension, and everything holds together on both logical and emotional levels as things more lurch than careen toward inevitable disaster. Incredibly solid performances, especially from Radheshyam, anchor the whole tragic affair, and for a movie that telegraphs its ending more or less right out of the gate, there are even a number of genuine — and genuinely shocking — surprises to be found along the way.

One rather large flaw, though, is the two-dimensional nature of Anna’s characterization. The little girl who plays her is, as near as I can determine, uncredited, and she’s really not given much to sink her teeth into, even for a child actor : she’s essentially relegated to the job of going from damn bad to even worse, with not much by way of a “normal” existence prior to her possession being shown. Making her somebody we can relate to on at least some level would have made for a much stronger overall story, but unfortunately, she’s not afforded anything like the nicely-realized treatment that anyone else is. A curious decision on Saif’s part, to say the least.

Obviously, I can’t even pretend to be able to speak to the film’s authenticity as far as how the Islamic faith deals with suspected cases of possession, but given that it only took about a minute and a half on Google to learn that Saif is himself a practicing Muslim, I’m gonna give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s done his homework on the subject. Even if he’s faking it all, though, it honestly doesn’t matter : Islamic Exorcist is constructed well enough, on levels both artistic and purely technical, that you’ll find yourself more than willing to go with its flow — heck, I daresay you may even find yourself more than a little bit haunted by it afterwards.

Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

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