Oooohhh…. Neko’s been shopping in Turkey again… and managed to snag a couple more horror film goodies!! Naturally, your Favorite Catgirl’s good luck is also your good luck, Gentle Visitors since it means I can give you all the skinny on another weird lil’ film you might just have missed. I know… I know… it’s a tough, thankless job, but some crazy Catgirl’s gotta do it, right? So it might as well be me.
Our synopsis for it goes like this here: “Derya (Selma Ergeç) works in a bank’s call centers to support her elderly mother. One day her life is suddenly turned upside down as she begins to hear a strange voice whispering to her. The source of the voice is a mystery and it tells her things and facts no-one else would know. Word gets out, and many in the community start to believe she is receiving messages from the divine. But soon the voice starts to become louder and louder, its tone becomes more and more threatening and Derya’s life starts spiraling into a nightmare.”
If you’ve ever watched a lot of Turkish cinema, then you know that, in the old days especially, it’s been… well… somewhat “derivative” of popular US and European film. OK… OK… so maybe “blatant rip offs” would be closer to the truth of those. You all know the ones I’m talking about, with terrible special effects and lousy acting that would make Ed Wood look like a cinematic genius. But, I’m happy to report, more modern Turkish efforts have become much more polished and… thankfully… original in theme and plot. These films are sometimes very surprisingly good, and for the most part almost unknown here in the US at least.
Is “Ses” going to be such a hidden gem with amazing potential? Or is it another blatant “craptastic” rip-off, thinly disguised and embarrassingly terrible? Yep… seems like there’s only one true way for you to know, and that’s to let your Favorite Catgirl Reviewer take all the risks and tell you all about this one.
“Read On” o’ Gentle Visitor and find out for yourself… (You never know…..Hehehehe!!)
Right from the start I had a good feeling about this one, and the Trailer made me think it was going to be a scary sort of ghost story done Turkish style. It’s filled with enough weird sounds crazy dark images, ghostly children, and the like to fill up two movies. All this lil’ Catgirl had to do was confirm those ever so important English subtitles, and it wasn’t hard to convince me I needed a copy for my very own. Luckily for me… I knew just where to snag a DVD from Turkey and so a couple weeks later I was popping the popcorn and snuggling down on my couch to give it a try.
However… having watched it, I can definitely say “Ses” isn’t what you might expect given a look at the Trailer alone. It’s less a horror movie (although there are some scary moments to be had… ) and more a psychological suspense film with a plot about repressed memories, murder, infidelity, and repressed romantic feelings. Our lead character Derya (played by Selma Ergeç), is a complex and troubled young woman with a long track record of scaring away potential suitors with her frank admissions of various neurosis and phobias. Want to score points with a potential date? Try telling him all about your absolute terror of knives, or maybe the fear you have of the dark time right at dawn just when they are calling you to morning prayer. Be a little distant… cool… and moody… Yep, trust Neko, guys really like that. Well… Ok, so apparently Turkish guys just get really creeped out by it. Anyway…. that’s why poor Derya is still single and living with her mom, obsessing over her old childhood friend and boss Onur (played by Mehmet Günsür), while her best girlfriend (played by Eylem Yildiz) is planning her dream wedding. She’s alright with all of that…. until she starts hearing “the Voice”.
The Voice? Yep… a creepy disembodied speaker that seems obsessed with driving Derya to certain inexplicable tasks or to madness itself if she tries to resist the Voice’s commands. At this point you might be thinking there’s a screw loose in poor Derya’s noggin…. and it’s more than likely. Still… all the oddities also seem like they just might be real… some sort of dread haunting tied to a mysterious event in hidden in Derya’s childhood.
There’s a crazy search for a wet nurse using the old “Hot & Cold” children’s game across Istambul that left Neko thinking that maybe there would be a nasty surprise in store for Derya regarding her crush on Onur. Even Carolyn thought that it might be revealed that they were secretly brother and sister…. after they finally stopped pussyfooting around their feelings for each other and had sex, of course. Nothing like a little incest… even innocent accidental incest…. to make such an idea all… Ewwwwhhh!!! But nope…. that’s not what’s going on here.
Huh? Well… Ok, there’s still the possibility that this is a haunting, right? It certain acts like a haunting… We get shadowy figures that sneak up on Derya in the middle of the night in her dreams… weird, eerie hallucinations about Onur…. and even a Talk Show host who supposedly hears “the Voice” too… Except that that turns out to be a nothing plot element too, introduced and promptly dropped like a hot rock. If I sound confused here… it’s because by this time in the story I most certainly was.
Our story moves along like that… Derya alienates her friend and eventually she and Onur hook up, but all along the way the ever present “Voice” follows her and keeps poking at Derya… trying hard to pick the scab off the old wound from her childhood she’s somehow forgotten.
Ahhh!! So it is about mental illness, right? Ummmm?… Well… maybe. However… to explain what’s really up, Your Favorite Catgirl would have to spill the beans and ruin everything for you. Naturally, I’d never do that….. Let’s just say that the ending, while convoluted and somewhat contrived, does explain everything in a nice little nutshell. Oh…. and how does Derya make out? Well, this is sorta a horror movie…. so you can kinda guess, right?
Hmmmm? This one was a bit of a mixed bag for me… While certainly stylish and well crafted, it’s not an easy film to get a grip on as far as how you would categorize it. Horror film? Suspense thriller? Psychological drama? Crime story? How about all of them and none of them all at the same time. Neko did end up liking this, but it wasn’t anything close to what I’d expected, that’s for sure. I give it 4 “Meows” out of 5…. mostly for being the slickest and best looking Turkish effort I’ve seen so far, but that comes with a warning that it’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. The Region 2 DVD from Tiglon Films is excellent too… having almost perfect English subtitles and a very good wide-screen PAL formatted picture. If the idea of grabbing yourself your own copy sounds appealing, the 16-20$ price tag is nice too. Given all of this, Neko’s definitely gonna have to start keeping a closer eye on Turkey for some more worthwhile efforts….
Oh, yes…. Trailer did you say? Yep, don’t worry, Neko’s gotcha covered!!