Saturday, July 20, 2019

Fear Files: Har Mod Pe Darr – episode 11 – review

Director: Unknown

First aired: 2015

Contains spoilers

This is an Indian horror anthology show that appeared on Netflix (in the UK at least). The blurb from Netflix for this one said: “A policeman who enters an old mansion comes face to face with a group of vampires who occupy the space within its walls.”

In truth this nearly became a ‘Vamp or Not?’ as we have a witch character – perhaps spectral, but corporeal in the time of the show, yet there are some vampire tropes connected and talk of her being able to raise undead creatures.

the Swami
The episode starts 200 years before and a Swami performs a ritual to bind a woman. We do not see her but we see the chains being bound around her wrists, which glow with the energy he imbues them with. He has sealed her but, when the stars align in the same way, the blood of someone from the Suryavansh dynasty can free her and with her powers she can bring the dead to life.

Inspector Singh
Cut to modern times and a man runs through woods pursued by a second. The chaser nearly catches his quarry but is cut across the hand with a knife for his trouble and the first man gets into the grounds of the mansion. The chaser is the new inspector, Singh, and presumably he is chasing a suspect. We see his blood drip to the ground outside the mansion and seem to be absorbed, causing vein-like cracks to appear – we can bet, therefore, that he is of the Suryavansh dynasty. He sees the suspect enter the house.

the swordsmen
Inside we see the suspect fall with his throat slit. Singh enters the mansion and hears a woman crying out for help. He is suddenly attacked by two swordsmen and manages to hold them off before falling through a door (the swordsmen don’t follow and seem to have lost him despite seeing him go through the door). In the room he finds a woman, Devika, who was the one calling for help. She realises he has a gun and he introduces himself and realises that he forgot about it when faced with the swordsmen – it would have done him no good, she suggests, as they are blood drinking demons and not men.

Elsewhere a Swami and a woman conduct a ritual. The woman has an odd look – with a fine line in madcap facial expressions, she is clearly a younger actress with heavy prosthetic makeup on her arms to make them look withered and long grey hair. They suggest that Devika will kill them but it is also clear that the show is trying to make us think that this woman is the witch (Devika tells Singh that she is the daughter of the mansion’s current owner) but very quickly twists that around with major clues – Devika looking to camera and her eyes turning red. Singh confesses that he looked in the mirror when holding Devika and she had no reflection and so he had guessed she was the witch too.

red eyes
As for blood-drinking, Devika constantly complains of a thirst and grabs a water urn that the suspect has been strung above (Singh doesn’t see the man hanging high up). Who hung him like that is unclear – when he died, Devika was trapped behind holy twine binding a door that Singh removed. Though it is entirely possible that the swordsmen, who are there to protect the Swami and the old woman, killed the suspect, it isn’t clear why they would then string him up. Whether it is blood she drinks or water infused with blood is also unclear. To kill the witch she must be stabbed three times with a ritual dagger.

no reflection
The series (that I have watched so far) suffers generally from too many middle-class family units (often mom, dad – who often owns a factory – and kid) being terrorised by the supernatural and a juxtaposition of traditional beliefs/superstition being met with modern incredulity. It is a formula too often played. This episode does not have that, indeed it is a thick slice of Indian-gothic with creepy mansion, evil character, magic at play and (of course) a dashing hero. As such I rather enjoyed the episode, though the narrative could have been tighter. However, for a made for TV episode it isn’t too bad at all. 4.5 out of 10.

The series imdb page is here.

No comments: