I’m still on the injured list and hanging out here all alone at home… Today’s review? So, how about a quick trip with this wee Catgirl to exotic Turkey by way of Germany for some good old fashioned “Exorcist” style Satanic horror as only the Turks can do it? Well Ok then, buckle up ’cause this time out it’s a look at the Region 2 release of 2013’s scream fest, “Şeytan-i Racim”.
The synopsis… translated from the Turkish… goes like this: “Emrah and Salih are two roommates together at University in İstanbul. While everything was going normal, Salih suddenly starts to learn about “the magic science” known as “havas”. Salih’s curiosity about magic becomes his obsession. Salih, wants to control the djin’s which live in Djins’ world. Emrah doesn’t know anything about this, but because he lives with him it isn’t long before he is ensnared in his friend’s growing trafficking with Evil. When Salih loses control of everything, Emrah begins to have nightmares, and soon flees to his parents house in İzmit. Although he expects to find serenity there, the djins follow and continue to torment him. When Emrah finds out that his family is not capable of aiding him, he finds a solution by going to Bakırcı Mehmet Efendi, an expert in these things. But, once hidden truths are revealed at last, will it be in time to save his soul and end the horror?”
Now if you’ve seen any Turkish horror, then you know that they just plain don’t mess around when it comes to heaping on the scares. Nope. When it comes to messing with the powers of Evil, the Turks don’t hold back. That always makes for some creepy chills and really intense horror the way this wee lady likes her movies. Mind you… they don’t always do it while making a whole lot of sense… but sometimes that’s the chance I have to take when looking for my foreign Horror movie goodies. How’s this one then? Guess we’ll all find out…. 😉
So… your Favorite Catgirl snagged herself a copy of this one on eBay direct from Turkey… where most local Region 2 DVD’s there for horror films usually come with pretty darn good English subtitles for those of us who need them. Most DVD’s that is… but not all. As it turned out, this particular one wasn’t subbed into English, but instead into German. German? Really? Yes… it seems there’s a big minority of Turks living in Germany these days and as a result a lot of Turkish film also gets released there to cater to that expatriate group as well as a German domestic audience that has acquired a liking for all things Turkish. Well… ordinarily that would have made watching this one a wee bit difficult for yours truly… so naturally I just had to get all stubborn and try to hunt down some subtitles I could use with it. But a few days search online proved to be a fruitless endeavor. So what’s an annoyed Catgirl to do when stuck with such a problem? Why strip those annoying German subs off the disc… auto-translate them into English… spend a long afternoon adjusting them by context into correct English usage… and then finally restore them to the film to be able to watch it. Yes… I know… A whole butt load of work just to watch a movie, but then I can be a doggedly stubborn little kitten when something annoys me. So… now that it’s done, I’m thinking most of you are probably wondering if all that effort was even worth it? 😉
Our story starts with some rather grisly surgical scenes… at first you don’t quite know what’s going on and then a young woman starts moaning and the blood starts flowing, and it isn’t long before you realize it’s an abortion happening (without benefit of pain killers by the sound of it… 😦 ) before we suddenly switch gears to the main story. Not to worry though… we’ll get back to this nasty bit of business eventually.
The story’s main character, our hero Emrah (played by Ugur Günes) is a young University student sharing lodgings with another student named Salih (played by Ertunç Uygun). Emrah is awoken from a horrible nightmare one night by weird sounds coming from Salih’s room, and witnesses freaky black smoke crawling around under his door with almost a life of it’s own. Breaking in on his roommate, he finds no trace of the smoke… and manages to piss Salih off by awakening him seemingly for nothing. This is merely the beginning of the crazy stuff that starts to plague or hero and it isn’t long before the strange and secretive behavior of his roommate starts to get even worse and really become a problem.
Emrah’s nightmares continue… along with the addition of some really disturbing hallucinations during his waking hours, all of which seem connected somehow to whatever bizarre things Salih is up to in his room. Naturally Emrah can’t avoid spying on Salih and eventually finds that he’s involved in performing some of those forbidden rituals to contact the Jinn… those demonic critters that just fill all these Turkish horror movies to the brim. Just exactly what Salih wants from all this isn’t all that clear, but stupidly Emrah lets himself become involved in it all in an attempt to understand the frightening nightmares and hallucinations he’s experiencing more and more often.
Oh yeah… really smart Emrah… especially given the way trafficking with magic, sorcery, or witchcraft in Turkey always ends with Satan messing you up but good. But… what the heck does any of this have to do with that whole abortion scene at the very beginning?
Well… our boy Emrah had himself a girlfriend named Nurdan (played by Kübra Balcan) before all this weird shit started happening. Yes, yes…. she ended up pregnant, and although Emrah got all pissed off and swore it wasn’t his fault, he did do that really stupid macho “give the girl money for the abortion” thing right before breaking it off with her. Grrrr…. what an a**hole… Now Neko’s sort of hoping the Jinn really mess you up but good, butthead.
However, it turns out… as badly as Emrah handled things, eventually he discovers that Salih was the real one ultimately responsible for Nurdan’s pregnancy, having always had a secret crush on her. You see… apparently he used the power of the Jinns to shape-shift into the likeness of Emrah one evening while his roommate was away and then rape Nurdan, who never knew it wasn’t Emrah who assaulted and shamed her. Mind you… our boy Emrah wouldn’t have believed poor Nurdan no matter what she’d have told him about things and his flirtation with the evil ceremonies has already damned him anyway so he’s screwed either way.
Trying to hide from it all back home with mom and dad doesn’t work… and Salih only ends up institutionalized in a sanitarium, so it becomes necessary for Emrah to seek the only help remaining…. a reputed expert on the supernatural living way out in some nearly deserted village in the middle of nowhere.
Bakırcı Mehmet Efendi (played by Altan Gordum) makes his living there as a coppersmith, when he’s not putting the holy whammy on evil Jinn and with his help Emrah tries to save both him and Salih from the consequences of their evil deeds. Does it work? Well… we do get the usual scary Islamic style ritual to drive away evil… but since our boy is damned in the eyes of Allah, you just know he’s not gonna have a happy outcome once the dust settle at the climax.
It’s all filmed in that very smooth and polished way that modern Turkish film is done when they have the right budget. The acting is competent if a bit over-the-top and melodramatic at times, and the sets, cinematography and effects are all pretty good too. However… I can’t really say this one goes anywhere novel or new for a Turkish horror film, and the way poor Nurdan is introduced and then used merely as a plot element before being dropped without any resolution to her own plight kind of definitely left a sour taste in my mouth. Emrah… as our story’s hero.. isn’t at all a sympathetic character (in fact, once I saw him deal so shabbily with Nurdan, I have to admit this wee lady wanted him dead…. in the most painful manner possible) so there’s really nobody to root for in any meaningful way. Never a good way for a movie to draw me in and make me happy.
With that, I suppose “Şeytan-i Racim” get’s a barely earned 3 “Meows” out of 5. It’s an OK film… with very good production values, but just not one with a story I’d recommend if you have to go to all the efforts I did just to watch it. Mind you… I do think those efforts were ultimately worthwhile, if for no other reason than to show me I can do that sort of work should another film I badly want to see stubbornly refuse to be released subtitled in future. Gotta look for those “silver linings”… 🙂
Trailer? You betcha! 🙂