It’s a brand spankin’ New Year and time to pause in my personal celebrations of late for another new Review… some Hindi horror this time out, with a look at Vikram Bhatt’s 2013’s effort, “Horror Story”recently released to DVD and ready for a certain crazy ghost story lovin’ Catgirl’s “Family Movie Nite” enjoyment!
So here we go… The synopsis reads: “A group of seven youngsters – Samrat, Magesh, Achint, Neel, Neena, Sonia and Maggie who reunite after several years apart, decide to spend a night at the reportedly haunted deserted hotel Grandiose to celebrate the farewell of one of them leaving soon for the US. Despite people’s warnings and other “signs” trying to ward them off from there, they enter the hotel, and then the horrible truth of their deadly situation finally dawns on them.”
Yep. Showing up in the mailbox weeks before I expected it and it sounds like we’ve got all the usual classic Bollywood horror bits in place. Perfect for yours truly to spring on my sweet Carolyn’s sisters family to give them their first look at the silly horror films that Bollywood has to offer. Oh, yeah…. They never knew what hit them, Hehehehe!! 😉
So if this one’s also possibly creeping your way for a look-see, o’ Gentle Visitor, then why not listen to all the pertinent details first before plunking down your hard earned cash for a copy… All courtesy of a certain goofy movie obsessed Catgirl with somewhat dubious tastes in film… 🙂
This one was a DVD I had ordered direct from India in the beginning of December and with the mail service being what it is around the holidays, I honestly hadn’t expect to see it arrive until several weeks into January. You can imagine my delight when it slipped into my mailbox the very day before Carolyn and I headed out to Sandra’s for Christmas. The kids have come to enjoy my stories about all the weird horror films I watch from all around the world… and given that Hindi discs are usually always Region Free NTSC ones with excellent English subtitles, it seemed perfect as something to slip into my suitcase just in case an opportunity for some fun Family Movie Night might present itself. Hey… you never know? 😉
Luckily for me, “Horror Story” pretty much lives up to it’s name. It’s a simple somewhat old fashioned throwback to the kind of horror films you probably remember seeing here in the US back in the 80’s with almost none of the usual trapping that Hindi films are saddled with. No singing or dancing… no extra side-plots that dilute the main story… no romantic sub-plot to cater to the non-horror fans. It’s pretty much just the old “kids trapped in the haunted house and killed one by one” plot that 80’s drive-in horror thrived on when Neko was a wee Catgirl watching her forbidden horror fix on late night TV. For a non Hindi audience… that’s a definite plus… more opportunities for scares with very little WTF culture shock. However… this very element is also it’s weakest component as well.
We start off watching a businessman entering the deserted Hotel Grandiose and proceeding for reasons unknown, to the terrace of room 3046, where he proceeds to kill himself by leaping to his death. Next, we meet our main cast of protagonists for the story, a little group of young 20-something Desi friends at a club where they are getting drunk and stupid to celebrate the imminent departure of one of them for the US and his “big break”…. Four guys and three girls, Samrat, Magesh, Achint, Neel, Neena, Sonia and Maggie who are all very, very modern, very, very jaded, and also… unfortunately for us in the audience…. essentially pretty much nothing more than a bunch of self-obsessed thrill seeking a-holes convinced the world owes them the golden goose and contemptuous of most everybody and everything outside their little clique. They immediately rubbed this wee Catgirl the wrong way… with not a one of them in any way written to be a character I might sympathize with or want to see survive an encounter with supernatural evil. Thankfully, the story doesn’t seem to like them much either…. and we don’t have to wait long for these fools to start getting killed.
Yep… looking for that next outrageous thing to break their drunken boredom, the TV news report of that businessman’s suicide gives them the bright idea to drive over to the deserted old hotel and break in for a midnight bit of sightseeing. A dumb idea… especially when they also seem to know all about the urban rumors surrounding death and supposed hauntings at the hotel. But hey… we wouldn’t have very many horror movies if idiots didn’t want to party themselves stupid at haunted places now would we? 🙂
Naturally once they get there the spirit that haunts the place traps them inside and begins to do all the creepy ghostly things you’d expect evil begrudged spirits to do to goofy idiots like our heroes. There’s the old “warp time and space” bit to keep them running in circles…. the neat trick of splitting them up to mess with them individually while disguised as another of the group… as well as the prerequisite collects of eerie noises and ghostly bits to flavor the whole thing. One by one our group starts to die off… and it’s amazing how quickly their “friendship” starts to fray as well, eventually putting them at each others throats as to how they can survive the night.
So… exactly what the heck is the haunting all about? Well… as it turns out, our 5 star luxury hotel is built smack dab over the ruins of a former mental sanitarium for the criminally insane. Not only that.. it was the scene of a horrible fire that killed all the patients and staff including Maya, a young girl possessed by Satan and gifted with the powers of witchcraft, institutionalized for the grisly murder of her entire family. Just when you thought “Poltergeist” might have had the dumbest real estate notion in the world with it’s housing project built over Indian Burial Grounds idea along comes this one…. (Hmmmm… movie guys… now I’ve got a plot for you. What about putting a girl’s reform school on the site of a former Nazi concentration camp? Ghosts… Nazis… and naughty German schoolgirls!! We could have exploitative cinema gold here…. just remember this wee Catgirl when all that ticket money starts rolling in, Hehehe!!)
Anyways… eventually the group figures out that Maya haunts the hotel, killed by electroshock therapy gone horribly wrong, they do the seance thing to try to find out what our crazy ghost wants to end the horror. Problem is… Maya is totally homicidally insane and wants just one thing. Death… grisly horrible bloody death… for them and anybody else she can get her evil claws on. Good for those of us watching and rooting for these stupid people to hurry up and die, not so good for them. Thank goodness this is a short 91 minute film…. cause it doesn’t take long for that to happen.
Eventually the few surviving members figure out the key to eliminating Maya is to destroy the item she’s spiritually bound to, the electroshock machine that killed her, but by them the cast has been whittled down to just a couple of people, including Neena, the least annoying of them, so you pretty much can bet she’ll pull off that and walk away from this mess at the end, no huge surprise there. Just don’t expect her to have any company….
So… what’s the overall verdict? Let’s see. The plot certainly isn’t special, being pretty much the same old “Haunted House” story this lady’s seen done a million times before, the characters are thin and frankly unlikable… but on the upside, the locale works extremely well, with lots of dark creepy claustrophobic spaces and oodles of creepy charm. Maya the demonic ghost witch is scary in that creepy long haired Asian way that never fails and is packed with plenty of vicious spunk to carry her end of the story. While I wasn’t blown away, I wasn’t bored either and for “Family Foreign Film Horror Night” fun it filled the bill nicely. I’d say most of you fellow creepy film fans would like it for the most part as long as you don’t go in with really high expectations. Oooooh… and it’s a Hindi film… so you’ll be able to grab a copy when you find it for a super nice 8-12$ US price too. Never a bad thing.
With that, I’ll be kind and give “Horror Story” a middle-of-the-road 3 “Meows” out of 5. Had they made an effort to be a wee bit more original, or had they actually added a character I liked to the story, I’d have been happier for certain, but I don’t think it would have pushed my rating much higher although overall I do think the film works on the simplest of levels. Sometimes that’s a victory in and of itself.
We end, as always, with our prerequisite Trailer, courtesy of Youtube with all the creepy Hindi horror goodness you might want. 😉