dybbuk review

An intricately-carved wooden box is given pride of place in a stately colonial house in Mauritius, whose new inhabitants, a troubled couple from Mumbai, are looking for new beginnings. But that is not to be. A scowling woman shows up to ask for work, loud creaks and whispers start and subside, and things start going bump, leading both Sam (Emraan Hashmi) and Mahi (Nikita Dutta) into a dark mystery which appears rooted in the Jewish history of the island.

If you thought that the novelty of being filmed on stunning locations, and an intriguing origin story would infuse some freshness in a film featuring an evil spirit (a ‘dybbuk’ being a malicious spirit that takes over a human whose body and soul are not properly fused), you would be totally off the mark. Based on the Malayalam language ‘Ezra’, ‘Dybbuk’ plays strictly by the numbers. Jump scares, shadows flitting across rooms, gruesomely contorted bloody bodies, pale women in white robes, gibbering creatures scrabbling along walls, and, of course, characters levitating: you can literally tick them off as each shows up at the designated time.

In a Bollywood horror flick, the moment you see a priest in his habit (and you never see ‘em in civvies), you know the next thing you will hear is a) this house is haunted, b) there is an evil spirit around, c) this man/woman/child is possessed. Denzil Smith duly performs his duties as said priest; Manav Kaul shows up as a hard-working rabbi, waving ancient ornaments to scare away the spirit. There’s a strand, almost like an afterthought, about a father and son and a pregnant young girl who turns into a ‘dybbuk’. There are dogs that bark to tell us that Things Are Not Right. There are dead people hiding in cupboards. Wait, have I missed anything?

The inter-faith union between a Christian man and Hindu woman leading to annoyed families could have been a layer. Mauritius being used as a nuclear waste dump by Western countries could have been another: Sam is employed at one such facility. These are referred to, only in passing. After a point, very little holds. The only horror you feel is having your time wasted, comprehensively.

Dybbuk movie director: Jay K
Dybbuk movie cast: Emran Hashmi, Nikita Dutta, Manav Kaul, Denzil Smith, Yuri Suri
Dybbuk movie rating: 1.5 stars

By William Regal

Used to think I was a tad indecisive, but now I’m not quite sure.

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