This time… it’s of to India for your Favorite Catgirl in her endless quest to watch every odd foreign horror movie ever released. (At least it seems like that to those who know me best… Hehehe…)
Our synopsis? Well it goes like this: “Set in the misty mountains of Koti, “Haunted 3D” revolves around the sprawling Glen Manor, a mansion with a secret past and a haunted present. The hero, Rehan, visits Glen Manor to complete its sale, which his father had initiated. But once he realizes that certain mysterious occurrences in the manor may jeopardize the sale, he investigates these inexplicable happenings and discovers a secret—only to fall in love with it! What he does not bargain for is that the secret brings him face to face with terror, the like of which he could never conceive.”
As the poster proclaims… this is India’s first foray into the recent 3D movie craze, and the DVD presents the film in this format… coming with no less than 4 pairs of those goofy red/blue paper glasses you need for this sort of thing… Sigh…. Not exactly this lil’ lady’s favorite movie fad, I almost passed on this one, but finding a copy at a really nice price convinced me to take a chance. Want to find out if it’s worth your effort to see?
Then you know the drill by now… “Read On” o’ gentle Visitors!
Our film begins, as so many of these Bollywood horror film do, with hunky Hindi hero Rehan (played by Mahaakshay Chakraborty) arriving at the remote mountain bungalow of Glen Manor. He’s the son of the current owner and he’s here regarding some problems with the property that threaten some big real estate deal… although I’m not certain what the heck that’s about and it never actually figures into the plot beyond giving Rehan an excuse for being alone at the estate for the next 10 days while he sorts it all out. Let’s just say he never gets around to any of that…..
Instead… almost immediately… he becomes involved with the eerie stuff going on here at the mansion concerning a rather violent story of rape, accidental murder, suicide, and the continued haunting of the place for the last 80 or so years. Yep… our bungalow is haunted by an evil spirit, and it’s keeping the ghost of a tragic young maiden captive to relive her terrible final days…. gotta hate that. Rehan certainly does…. Hindi movie heroes always get upset by such tragic injustice so he decides right away to end the haunting and free the girl’s spirit. However.. that’s easier said than done, naturally.
Slowly he pieces things together. Seems waaaay back in 1936 Glen Manor was the home of the Sabharwal family and thier daughter Meera (played by Twinkle Bajpai). Meera was young, pretty, talented and unfortunately also the object of desire for her evil piano teacher, the lecherous Professor Iyer (played by Arif Zakaria). All this comes to a nasty head during the week her parents leave her in the house while they are away for business in Delhi. Unaware of her evil teacher’s desire for her, she agrees to have him come to the house for her tutoring, only to find herself assaulted and nearly raped by the evil fiend. He fails…. but only because plucky Meera whacks him upside the head with a big ol’ candelabra and cracks open his skull but good, killing him before he can succeed. (Yay!!)
You’d think she’d get in trouble… killing a guy and all… but the police search the Professor’s house and find his stash of her stolen personal items and creepy nude sketches of Meera and decide he got exactly what he deserved. They exit… never to bother our story again. So that means she’s all good, right? Wrong…. The evil spirit of Iyer is so darn horny and obsessed with Meera that not even death can stop him from sating his evil lusts for our poor maiden. He shows up in her dreams and swears he’s make her his slave forever… but first he’ll kill any who get in his way. Start the ghostly beheading rampage!!
He kills all the family retainers and even Margaret, Meera’s personal maid, and traps her in the mansion before beginning his reign of sexual abuse and torment for our heroine. After a week of this, unable to stand any more of his horrible assaults, Meera commits suicide by hanging in the piano room. But… that doesn’t end things… not by a long shot. Now her spirit is trapped, bound to Iyer forever, and cursed to relive that horrific week over and over for all eternity. Awmmm…. crap…. don’t you just hate when that happens?
So… back in the present, our hero Rehan, outraged by this tale and falling in love with Meera despite the impossibility of it all, finds this weird hobo guy who keeps giving him cryptic bits about how “You are the only one who can succeed” and telling him he must “become one with Meera’s pain to resolve the events of the past”. Ummm…? OK. I suppose when there are ghosts and evil spirits involved somebody’s gotta know what to do, so why not listen to a crazy hobo guy?
Spending his time reading her tragic suicide letter over and over, playing her favorite song on her piano, and getting all morose and sad, Rehan somehow manages to pull it off…. doing the whole “Somewhere In Time” bit, and transporting himself through time to the Glen Manor of 1936 on the very day Meera’s parents leave for Delhi. Wow…. didn’t see that one coming.
From this point forward our plot shifts to the romantic subplot I sorta expected to somehow show up, as Rehan tries his best to change destiny and save Meera from her terrible Fate. He fails to prevent her killing Iyer… merely getting himself whacked on the head himself by the professor as he makes his ill fated attempt at rape. That means Iyer still becomes the evil, obsessed spirit… and Rehan can only try to prevent him seizing poor Meera and killing her servants. Again…. not so darn successful. Finally he, Meera and her maid Margaret (played by Achint Kaur) are left. One consultation with the nearest priest tells them they have only one hope… a nearby shrine and a holy hermit that can defeat such a powerful spirit as Iyer. But naturally the ghost will fight to keep them away from there at all costs. Dang….
Eventually Margaret gets killed… and Iyer reanimates and possesses her body to go all “Evil Dead” on our two ill fated lovers. Luckily, before she can finish them off they do finally find their way to the shrine, only to discover that the Holy hermit is non other than our crazy hobo guy from 2011. He tells them that they curse can indeed be broken… but only by going to this nearby ruin (Gee… ever notice how all these weird places are just somehow conveniently nearby?) and throwing Meera’s bloody locket into this supposedly bottomless mystic well. Ummm? So why don’t Rehan and Meera just stay in the protected sanctuary of the shrine while mystic Hermit guy does that instead? Not really sure…. seems kind of stupid given the deadly power of Iyer, but hey….. it’s always best if we don’t let logic like this blow the story apart when we’re this close to the climax.
Yep… there’s a big ghostly fight at the ruins…. Meera nearly gets assaulted… yet again…. but our hero Rehan manages to dispose of the locket in the well in the nick of time. However… before he and Meera can celebrate, he falls into the well himself, magically returning to the present alone. Running to the house… he finds her suicide note replaced by a new letter…. one that thanks him for his courage and tells him of Meera’s long and happy life even if the two of them could never be together. Cue those end credits….
So… after all that, how did I like this one? Well…. first we have to look at the big gorilla in the room….
3D movies…. It’s a fad that just won’t seem to die. Like the monster in one of the movies I love, just when you think it’s been suitably killed off and buried in the shallow grave it deserves, it rises again to haunt the land once more. (If you are getting the sense that this is one movie Special Effects idea that your Favorite Catgirl absolutely abhors, you’d be right…. 😉 ) There’s a real reason it rears it’s head only to fade away every time it come back…. and that is that it just plain doesn’t work. “Haunted 3D” is a good example of why that is…..
This one is done in that nasty red/blue analog 3D system that is about as old as the idea of 3D itself. It means wearing those tinted paper glasses… that even when they do work, give the film a ghastly shift in color rendering all that gorgeous cinematography in a horrific unreal appearance. Don’t wear the stupid glasses, you say? Then the entire film needs to be watched in a blurry slightly out of focus way that intensifies in it’s distraction as key scenes are presented with added emphasis on the 3D effects to the detriment of the image itself. Watch a movie like this for long and you’ll get the most appalling headache…. and remember…. Hindi films routinely run 2+ hours or even longer. Auuugghhh!!
I’m telling you. 3D just simply isn’t worth the hassle. Please…. filmakers…. just give it up. I’m begging you. Ordinary 2D films can be filled with breathtaking imagery without stupid, annoying…. and just plain unworkable… gimmicks. Sigh…. Breathe, Miyuki…. just breathe.
Without the 3D… “Haunted 3D” would have worked just fine. While not the most original story idea to come out of India lately, it nonetheless managed to be a well made film that misses many of the usual Bollywood “mistakes” that normally make Hindi films so darn… tedious… to those of us not from India. It’s a long film… about 2 hours and 20 minutes… but not excessively long. The plot moves along well and is actually comprehensible to a non-Indian viewer. There is only one small superfluous subplot (involving a spirit medium) that doesn’t add to the story, but that doesn’t trip it up either. There is music…. but it’s actually woven into the story for a change… not looking “tacked on” the may most Hindi film music does. Ahhhh…. and no dance numbers coming out of just plain nowhere. All in all, “Haunted 3D” looks like a very classy “Western” style ghost story with just enough Hindi flavor to make it exotic and different. The sets are good… the acting more than adequate and believable, and the romance properly poignant and romantically tragic. Even the rape scenes… while suitably disturbing as they should be… are tastefully handled in that nudity-free way Hindi films like to do. If only they had dropped the stupid 3D…..
Sigh… Given this though, I can only give “Haunted 3D” 3 “Meows” out of 5. It almost slid to 2 “Meows”…. but mercifully, a couple of Tylenol took care of my headache and throbbing eyestrain before I wrote my review. Carolyn was luckier…. ignoring the film most of the time we watched it while simply trying to distract lil’ me with a bit of naughty snuggling action….(In looking back, I’m thinking she might have just have had the right idea on how we should have spent our evening….. but I’m a stubborn movie watchin’ lil’ geek…. Hehehehe!) Should you be so inclined to locate a copy for yourself… the DVD for this one at least measures up to the usually great standards Hindi discs usually are. It’s Region free, anamorphic wide-screen with those excellent English subtitles we expect from big budget Hindi releases. On board is also a good “Making of” featurette… in English language… but thankfully not also in 3D. You should be able to snag a copy for anywhere from 10-20$ US most places.
Yes… there’s a Trailer of course, and Neko would never leave you hanging without a quick peek now would she?