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Review | 'Dybbuk' is a super creepy movie, just right for Halloween viewing

Emran Hashmi and Manav Kaul manage to keep 'Dybbuk' earnest. The love story of Ebrahim Ezra (Imaad Shah), too, keeps viewers engaged.

October 31, 2021 / 11:14 PM IST
(Image: screen grab)

(Image: screen grab)

Can Emraan Hashmi save his wife who opens Pandora's box?

‘I don’t know if the house is haunted or she is...’ I smiled as I heard the priest (Denzil Smith) say that to a puzzled Emran Hashmi. Even though the ghosts appear in a predictable fashion (in the closet, in the steamed up shower, in the attic), I have been creeped out nonetheless. Halloween is creeping up to me quite nicely, thank you very much.

Set in the beautiful island country of Mauritius, this scary tale is a paint by numbers story, but it works. Not odd that it drops on Amazon Prime Video at midnight. I am shaking inside as a line from Jurassic Park pops into my head, ‘Clever girl!’

A dead girl has just snatched a bottle from the heroine’s hand saying, ‘Mine!’

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So Sam and Mahi (Emran Hashmi and Nikita Dutta) have moved to Mauritius to make a new beginning (Mahi has had a miscarriage, so she’s sad) and Sam’s new job is securing a Nuclear Waste facility…

Mahi is an interior decorator and gets involved with filling up the colonial bungalow they’ve moved into. Note to self: Do not fill your house with creepy antiques that could house spirits. Stick to Ikea.

Mahi brings back a Dybbuk. Turns out it is a box that contains malevolent spirits. Of course there’s a gratuitous shot of the spirit in the form of black dust going inside of her via her mouth. Yay to the trope, but done with enough suspense for it to be satisfactory.

We know the box is not something you bring home because someone else with a curious mind (and hoping to find money or something valuable) opens the box at an antique shop. We have witnessed a fun scene with things in the antique shop going nuts. Especially creepy is when the gramophone begins to play a song…

This is a great introduction to a very angry spirit. The head cop Riyaz (played well by Gaurav Sharma) is puzzled by this death at this antique store which was shut from the inside.

Now the spirit has been unleashed in Mahi and Sam’s home. And the weather changes too. We barely see the Sun, and it’s now mostly raining because horror movies are better in the rain, I guess…

The Sun doesn’t go away, not really, because Mahi and Sam have gone jogging and befriended a dog and their owners. You have seen so many horror films that you’re expecting the now unleashed spirit will either eat the dog or the owner.

Sam too is woken up by the spirit running from one end of the attic to the other and you are amazed at how the spirit does now like lights being switched on, and how the flashlights in these horror movies always work (in real life, I would have to try and locate where the batteries are, or having left them in the flashlight for too long, they would have expelled their toxic juice and ruined the device!).

But the scene is done well, and I did have my heart-in-mouth moment when Sam pulls the sheet off something that could have Valak like nun underneath…

Oooh! Manav Kaul shows up as Rabbi Marc who is going to exorcise the Jewish spirit. And I’m hoping there will be lots of regurgitated green stuff and levitating. They do not disappoint even though there is no projectile vomiting (In my humble opinion, every great movie of this genre must have at least one person spewing out slime!).

The cemetery scene is fun, but not much happens there. I wish they had pushed the budget to include maggots… And there was a missed opportunity of showing the evil baby during the ultrasound. But the computer scene managed to jolt the cup of coffee off my hands. Perhaps I shouldn’t wish for slime on the big screen. It must be tougher than coffee to clean up…

Dybbuk is not a fabulous creepy film or anything, but Emran Hashmi and Manav Kaul manage to keep it earnest and we’re involved in the love story of Ebrahim Ezra (Imaad Shah) too. Of course they forgot about Norah in Mahi’s closet, but the finale is a fun watch. As they say, horror movies exercise your heart muscles by making it furiously pump in some moments and then jump up to your mouth or down to your tum in the scary parts. This worked.



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Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.
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