An impressive horror from Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury utilises many well-used horror tropes and can bring something fresh to the table. Rife with tension and some gruesome scares, Kandisha demands your time.
It’s summer break in Paris, and best friends Amélie (Mathilde Lamusse), Bintou (Suzy Bemba) and Morjana (Samarcande Saadi) hang together with other neighbourhood teens. Nightly, they have fun sharing scary stories and urban legends. But when her ex assaults Amélie, she remembers the story of Kandisha, a powerful and vengeful demon. Afraid and upset, Amélie summons her. The next day, her ex is found dead. The legend is true, and now Kandisha is unleashed. Can she be stopped?
When a friend shares the tale of an avenging demon of death from their ancestral homeland, make sure to get all of the information first before you summon it to take revenge on someone who has done you wrong. As Amélie finds out, it is a lot harder to keep the genie or demon in the bottle than out. Kandisha takes out her wrath on any of those males close to Amélie and her friends with one gruesome and well-presented death after another. Kandisha has a quota, and it must be fulfilled.
The comparisons are going to come that the film reminds audiences of Candyman, and it is hard to shake tag. Still, it is not necessarily a bad comparison to make, they tread similar stories, but Kandisha can separate itself enough to make it stand out on its own two ominous hooves. For one, it takes us down a path of not knowing who exactly will be next on the block and how they will perish, so when they do in some very unfortunate and heart-breaking places, you feel for them.
Bustillo and Maury’s script succeeds from its slow-burner opening to present us with three leads that we can easily buy being friends. All too often, you wonder how a group of people became friends (I am looking at you Scream), here though we get it. This inner-city group relies on each other to get by, and when struggles come, they will make sure they are together to fight them. The duo can feed us enough lore without halting the entire film to explain itself as Kandisha trucks along at a very steady pace. Giving us enough information to care for most of the cast and not just our three main protagonists when characters such as Bintou’s dad are possible victims, you worry. You see this sweet man doing everything to get his family a better life out of the apartment blocks, and you want him to live. Simple writing, but effective.
Some wonderfully gory deaths spread throughout the film, with Bustillo and Maury never being afraid to give us that extra bit of Schlock that other films of the similar ilk would back down from. By going that little more brazen with the after-effects of our demons wrath, we can genuinely be horrified, and yes, some deaths work a whole lot better than others, but the ones that do work, work magnificently well that it surprises you that you saw it. However, we should have expected something like this to come our way when we talked about the same filmmakers who brought us Inside.
Character design-wise Kandisha is fantastic; it is truly a character that would live in legends and evolve to what situation is required of her is a great inclusion to an already impressive film. Starting creepy in her cover until slowly, she reveals her true self to the next unlucky victim, we have a character that works, and with a Moroccan take on this type of character, it is still able to feel fresh. By adding small layers to the character and the film overall, as a genre fan, you are thoroughly satisfied.
The final moments of Kandisha could have done with being cut down by 30 seconds as that would give far more power to what is taken place, but that is mere nitpicking for what is a very entertaining and punchy horror film. With that said, there needed to be a touch more development with our trio to make the entire film work fully. Yes, we know about Morjana’s parents passing and their tough living environment, but other than the odd moment, they seem too carefree, happy to roam along and tag walls together. Although this incident is a way for them to move on from this innocent stage of their life, it could have been presented a touch better.
In the end, however, we are left with an excellent film that works on you with its superb pacing and will have you remembering and fearing an unstoppable hoofed demon. So watch it when you can.
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