‘Kaali Khuhi’ is a 2020 Netflix original Indian horror film, which literally means ‘Black Well’. I remember watching the trailer months ago and being intrigued by it. So when my mother suggested we watch a horror film, we picked this. Only to regret our decision 90 minutes later.
Directed by Terrie Samundra, the film has an impressive cast, there’s Bollywood veteran Shabana Azmi, television star Sanjeeda Sheikh, along with Satyadeep Mishra and Leela Samson. It’s about a curse on a small village where elders followed the heinous practice of female infanticide – the babies are poisoned and dumped into a well. For a few years, peace prevails, but when a couple visits the village to meet the husband’s ailing mother, they find out that the curse is back and they are haunted by the spirit of a dead child. Somehow, it’s up to their daughter Shivangi (Riva Arora) to find a solution.
Despite being only 90 minutes long, ‘Kaali Khuhi’ is slow, with several needless elongated shots that test the viewer’s patience. The first time we see the spirit’s face, it’s supremely underwhelming. The director relies on violent scenes and gore to scare the viewer, but far from spooking onlookers, the scenes make you recoil at the over-use of blood and gross bloody scenes. Riva Arora as Shivangi doesn’t get to do enough as the protagonist to win the viewers sympathies.
While the director’s effort to demonize the evil practice of female infanticide is applause-worthy, the execution of the plot makes you want to slap your forehead. There are a lot of gaps in the story that make little sense and the viewer has to do a lot of ‘fill in the blanks’ work, which can be frustrating for most. It had a very disappointing climax that looked straight out of a ‘B’ grade horror film from the 1980s.
My mother’s faith in my film choices were shaken a little by the end of the film. But I reminded her of all the good ones we watched together and all was forgiven. ‘Kaali Khuhi’ is a 4/10 from me.
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