Horrortoberfest ’21 Day 6 – The House Next Door (2017)

One of the things that is surprising to me after watching a couple of these Indian horror films is just how much back and forth between Hindi and English there is. Sentence to sentence and sometimes word to word will switch between the two languages. Which isn’t all that surprising since even the beginning of this film starts during the British occupation of India. HaHA! Colonialism strikes again!

Dr. Krish and his wife Lakshmi live an idyllic life as shown by the entire ass music video that starts this thing off. One day, a new family moves into the previously vacant and titular house next door. Their daughter Jenny takes a liking to the good doctor but the spirits that haunt the house have no time for love, Dr. Krish. Jenny starts to act strangely, having seizures and walking in a fugue, and her family and Krish are desperate to try anything. They even turn to a priest to try an exorcism but boy howdy, does that open up a brand new can of worms.

The House Next Door, or Aval as it is known in its Tamil language version, has a similar problem to Pizza, the movie I reviewed yesterday, in that the pacing just isn’t that great. While this was definitely a higher quality and overall better movie, it lacks a conservation of narrative to make things flow a little easier. The flirtation from Jenny aimed at Krish is focused on for a while at the start but then dropped once things get spooky and it has no bearing or meaning to the plot from then on. I think the overall story and acting were good but the film is over 2 hours long and it really didn’t need to be.

One of the most interesting things is the way that the movie ends up showing a true blending of cultures at the foothills of the Himalayas. The family brings in a Pentecostal priest for the exorcism but the grandfather turns to a wandering shaman for help and the ghosts themselves are Chinese immigrants that were there because they were selling silk to the British while they occupied India. The family has to bring in a Chinese translator once the daughter gets possessed just to facilitate communication. It just not often you see a film bring in so many different things like that.

The end of the movie also ends up being a political message about the condemnation of female infanticide and abortion; a very real problem that India still faces. Nice to see a film use its platform for something worthwhile.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

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