fbpx

Joseph’s Overlook Film Festival Reviews: “Dachra” and “Porno”


Dachra

★★ out of ★★★★★

Local-color sinisterness can’t overcome the exasperating squabbling of the three main protagonists in this Tunisian fright flick.

Directed by Abdelhamid Bouchnak

Though there is reason to celebrate Dachra as reportedly being one of Tunisia’s first horror films, writer/director Abdelhamid Bouchnak doesn’t offer much in the way of originality, as most seasoned horror fans have seen the basic plot and accompanying tropes many times over. Bouchnak does add local flavor to the mix, though, along with some unsettling images and a pervading sense of dread. What undoes all the good in this film, however, is the constant bickering between the three main characters. Supposedly acquaintances who often work together on university film projects, Yasmine (Yasmine Dimassi), Walid (Aziz Jbali), and Bilel (Bilel Slatnia) are given a short deadline to make a documentary. Desperate for a topic, they decide to investigate the story of a madwoman in a local hospital who is prone to biting the ears off of nurses. This leads to the trio — after more arguing, insulting, and sniping than is bearable, but there is much more to come — to the titular remote compound wherein intestines are hung out to dry in the sun, the women are not allowed to speak to outsiders, and a creepy little girl runs around giggling. The film students find themselves stranded here, and the one local who can help them overdoes the hospitality to the degree that he almost immediately telegraphs what lies ahead.  It’s usually a pleasure to see horror films from underrepresented countries regarding this genre, especially when they tackle local religion, superstition, and customs that can make the projects that much eerier to Western audiences, even when using Western fright fare tropes, and Bouchnak delivers in those departments; however, giving audiences no one to root for in scare fare is usually a major gamble, and the incessant quarreling between the three main characters was a huge turn-off for this reviewer.

Porno

★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★

When a group of Christian teens find a mysterious movie and watch it, they find themselves stalked by a sex demon seeking blood and other bodily fluids in this brash horror comedy.

Directed by Keola Racela

Circa 1992, five teenaged cinema employees at different stages of dealing with their Christian faith unearth a mysterious reel of film hidden for seemingly years in a boarded-up area of their theater in this jaw-dropping horror comedy. When they watch the movie after hours in an otherwise empty cinema, they unwittingly free a succubus (Katelyn Pearce of the horror outings Catskill Park [2018] and Clinton Road [not yet released]) that preys on its victims’ deepest desires. Chaz (Jillian Mueller), Ricky (Glenn Scott), Todd (Larry Saperstein), Abe (Evan Daves), and Heavy Metal Jeff (Robbie Tann) have no idea what is happening in the occult footage with a naked woman that they are watching, but they soon find out, in painful — and in one case, unforgettably graphic — ways, as the sex demon attempts to lure them into its grasp one by one. The five main cast members are a blast to watch as panic and the reality of their situation set in, and Racela — working from a sharp screenplay by Matt Black and Laurence Vannicelli — does a superb job of keeping one hilarious set piece after another rolling along smoothly. Porno is not shy on the horror end of things, with plenty of gross-out gags and red stuff to spare. The film has a surprisingly big heart to it, and the protagonists are rather sympathetically written and portrayed to be laughed with, not at, though plenty of their actions welcome the latter. Don’t let its title put you off. Porno is never raunchy enough to even come close to pushing the envelope of what that word usually conjures up, although certainly both female and male nudity are on display. Potential viewers who are not easily offended, and those with a soft spot for the horror comedies of the video rental heyday, should have a ball.

Both Dachra and Porno screened at the Overlook Film Festival, which ran May 30–June 2 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Reviews by Joseph Perry

Categories: ReviewsTags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: