Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Neighbours – review


Director: Shyam Ramsay

Release date: 2014

Contains spoilers


This is a Bollywood offering from Shyam Ramsay, of the famous Ramsay brothers and is not, it must be stated at the head of the review, a horror film as much as it is a comedy horror. It is also a gender swapped (presumably unofficial) remake of Fright Night with the Brewster role being taken over by Sanam (Hritu) and, whilst it contains an occult layer that Fright Night never had it never strays far from the core plot.

That said the prologue of the film is very different.

seduction via dance
After a start that mentions the idea that between the 17th and 20th century there were millions of vampires it moves to the Mountains of Kumbhata Maang which are ruled by a witch named Kapaalika, who is also a vampire. A forest officer named Vikrant (Gavie Chahal) was hunting her but then one night, outside his home… and yes, less than three minutes in and we have a Bollywood song and dance as Kapaalika tries to seduce the chaste Vikrant, a devotee of Shiva. She nearly succeeds too, but he sees the evil looking tattoo on her back and comes to his senses.

exploding fireballs
She runs, rightly fearing for her life, and he chases after her and is set upon by satanic monks who he fights and then, after defeating them, he pulls out a holy aum symbol and starts firing fireballs at her. Yup, fireballs and they produce blooming massive explosions on impact. Eventually the good mystic energy strikes a glancing blow and she ends up with the aum raised as a weal on her forehead and then, with a direct hit, she is disintegrated. All this is watched by a sinister man who is lurking in the bushes and who turns out to be her master. He predicts her return.

Hritu as Sanam
In the city Sanam is watching a horror movie and starts to scream. This brings her aunty and uncle (and a guy I assume is her cousin, the film isn’t clear). Realising it is the horror film that has set her off the uncle threatens to throw away all her DVDs and books. When they get to her favourite – a book on vampires by Professor Indernath Malhotra (Shakti Kapoor) she kicks up such a fuss that they eventually relent and give her one more chance. The next day she is modelling for her photographer boyfriend Karan (Sunny Singh) in the park when she spots and meets Indernath. She gets his autograph and an invitation to visit him and get a book of his she doesn’t have.

the Master and Tanya
Meanwhile a woman, Tanya, is driving along and goes over some wood with nails in, puncturing her tire. Her brother (who we later discover is Vikrant) calls her and the Master sneaks up on her and grabs her. He takes her to a house (bungalow in the subs but way too big for the English term) that happens to be opposite Sanam’s and the girl spots localised lightning around the house as the master calls forth the spirit of Kapaalika and she possesses Tanya.

the mirror cracks
Following the Fright Night formula, Sanam is suspicious of the goings on in the house, sees Kapaalika feed and tries to get help that ends up with her going to the professor. He actually does believe in vampires and so when he goes to help her test Kapaalika he immediately states that the test was positive (unlike Peter Vincent in the US vehicle who denies it). The test in this case is throwing holy water (from the Ganges) over her and then looking at her in a mirror. Rather than no reflection, the mirror shows her vampiric self and then cracks. The professor’s assistant Sweety is got (as opposed to Fright Night’s Evil Ed) and goes after him, scaring him off.

drinking blood
It all leads to a showdown and a reluctant vampire hunter making good (though it adds in Vikrant turning up too). However, Sanam is no Brewster and is fairly useless throughout, screaming at anything remotely scary. The lore is limited but they can shapeshift (we are told) and are weak during a lunar eclipse. There is only one other song and dance (about being drunk). The sfx range from quite good to poor but it all holds together rather nicely, so long as you can stand Sanam’s histrionics. It certainly isn’t the greatest film ever made – and by far not the best Bollywood film (or Bollywood vampire film for that matter). However, I wasn’t bored, I was mostly amused and a couple of moments were effective. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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