Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Horror Film Review

Raaz (2002):  Okay.  My first horror movie out of Bollywood (India).  I honestly didn't know what to expect.  And what I saw...I would have never expected.  First of all, while it is horror, this movie is mostly a love story.  Well, a love-gone-wrong story.  You see, the Hindi word "raaz" means "secret" and everybody's got one.  Oh, yeah...and it's also a musical.  Intrigued?  Confused?  Welcome to my world. 

With a running time of over 150 minutes, there's a lot of ground to cover, but I'm going to try to be as brief as possible.   Raaz starts with a group of teenagers playing spin the bottle by an oddly symmetrical stand of trees.  A boy chases a girl in there.  The girl hears some seriously creepy screaming, a blast of wind tosses her hair around, and she ends up losing her mind.  We see that there's a nice bungalow at the edge of the woods and it's implied that the house is somehow involved.  The story shifts to a couple, Aditya and Sanjana (the pretty people in the picture) who are played by Dino Morea and Bipasha Basu, respectively.  They're having marital problems; he's a hotel exec working too much and she's popping sleeping pills.  She wants a divorce, he wants to try to work it out.  Sanjana agrees to give the marriage one more chance but only if they can go back to where they fell in love...this would in a certain bungalow next to an oddly symmetrical stand of trees. 

It's not long before Sanjana starts hearing strange noises and experiencing strange activity.  She's put into contact with a professor who's some kind of spirit expert (he knows a ghost is present if a lemon turns red), and so the process of unravelling the mystery begins.  As the movie title suggests, that mystery revolves around secrets of the most painful kind.  This, of course, means another woman is involved.  In this case, however, the other woman is dead and pretty pissed off.  Sanjana has to decide if she wants to fight for the man she once loved, a fight that if lost could cost her her life and Aditya his soul.  I'm not trying to be melodramatic here.  It just happens to be the truth. 


Acting:  It's always difficult for me to gauge acting ability when the film is foreign. I think it's because I'm reading instead of studying the actors. No matter. I can say that Morea is subdued and cool and plays his part perfectly. Basu alternates from blithering victim to heroine with a steely resolve. Sanjana could have been written that way, I suppose, but the flip-flopping is distracting. Basu does better when she's not shaking with fright or fleeing in terror. 
Story:  It's ghost story, no question about it.  That it's heavy on soap opera drama can be forgiven.  That there are musical sequences including a dance number...that's harder to forgive. 
Direction:  Ah, now here's where I do have a complaint.  This film could have been a tight, tense little thriller if the pacing hadn't been so lethargic, which is strange given that it's suppose to be a horror movie.  And the only reason I can think of as to why there were musical numbers is that director Vikram Bhatt owed someone a favor.  But I'm new to Indian horror, so this could be the norm. 
Gore:  Well...there's a bleeding chandelier, does that count?  In other words, the gore factor is minimal. 
Ending:  The climax is intense so you don't mind so much that the final shot is a bit sappy. 
Verdict:  Should you see Raaz?  I think so.  If for no other reason than to experience a different kind of horror. 

Rating:  3 out of 5


  1. Nathan, your review is so good, this is so true about the movie, its more a love story rather a horror movie...but do explore other indian horror movies..

  2. I sure will. Please supply a list of any you can think of and I'll give them to go. Thanks, Pony.