I had the chance to come across a fairly new horror film at random while my man and I were looking for something to watch over the recent weekend. What we found was Curse of Mesopotamia, a Middle Eastern horror film joining a growing new sub-genre of horror films and is actually the first English language Middle Eastern horror film. We do have Iranian and Turkish horror films such as A Girl Walks Alone at Night (which is fab btw) and Baskin (which I enjoyed), but both are filmed in their native languages. I am intrigued by new horror, of course, and having a Middle Eastern setting to it piqued my curiousity elevenfold. I watched the trailer (without my bf) and I have to admit that the storyline got me interestsed. I wanted to see Curse of Mesopotamia more than I wanted to see another film whose trailer we watched called Lord of Tears aka The Owlman. (I will be posting a review on that as well at a later date. Stay tuned.)
Quick run-down: A group of adults are concurrently having the same nightmare and seeing the same psychiatrist. Once the psychiatrist uses her smarts to put two and two together, she suggests to her patients, all strangers to one another, that as it appears they are all having the same dream of the same place, perhaps it would benefit all if they traveled to said place to confront their fears. Five strangers, including a would-be jihadist, a mute but very talented artist, and a small time actress who is the epitome of pampered, travel to Iraq to attempt to eradicate their nightmares and come to find out that they are being visited by a demon and that their nightmares are actually flashbacks of previous lives.
Weeellllll….color me intrigued, right? Reincarnations? Murderous queens? Demons? Yes! However, as the movie went on, I started noticing a lot of problems. For one, the acting. I know, I know, my horror dears, if there’s one thing in a horror film that should stand out in a good way, it’s the acting. Usually, bad acting can pretty much break a film and horror critics will take you to task. I have to admit that the acting (for the most part) was wooden, stiff in places and some of the facial expressions really didn’t match up to the script. The fight scenes were atrocious. Some of the slowest choreography is witnessed in Curse and none of the fighting really flowed well as you expect from an action scene. Another issue for me was the pacing of character development. It was a bit of stretch for me to see that our mute starts speaking after having just one night of good rest. I mean, I know how good a deep sleep can be, but seriously, give me a least a day or two before she starts talking.
Now, let’s talk about the good things. Curse was initally filmed in Iraq, but due to a lot of issues including those with ISIS, the crew had to move to Jordan. The location settings don’t take away from the film and altogether give a creepy, shadowy atmosphere that fits the theme of the film. The costuming was gorgeous. I especially fell in love with Queen Lale’s gowns and would love to see such creations on the red carpet. With that being said, Melissa Mars as Queen Lale/Amira (our very pampered “actress”) did a wonderful job of playing a beautiful sadistic queen ready to give in to her king’s bloody desires. There is an execution scene in Curse that will stay with me always. The biggest point for me regarding Curse was the story, the plot. Writer/director Lauand Omar does a great job of putting together an original script giving the viewer a glimpse into the past and witnessing the dynamics between royalty and servitude, the oppressor and the oppressed with a little bit of the supernatural thrown in.
There is a difference between a bad movie and a flawed movie. A bad movie is when you finish a film and ask yourself, “WTF? Why was that made again?” A flawed movie is when you finish a film and say, “I hope [insert producer/director] makes another one and improves on…..” THis is where I stand with Omar. I hope he does make another film. I hope he improves with his casting choices. I hope that he sticks with the horror genre. Personally, I did not feel that Curse was a bad movie, simply flawed with concepts that can be rather easily discarded or changed for the better. I hope that more people get to see Curse. I attempted to read several reviews on IMDb and users skewered this film by calling the story “improbable”. *le sigh* Let’s not forget that this is still a horror film and that, yes, even Muslim fundamentalists dream. Curse isn’t gory, it doesn’t need to be. It has enough blood to leave a horror fan, even a self-admitted gorehound like myself, satisfied. But all the buckets of blood in the world can’t compare with a good story. So thank you. Lauand Omar, for Curse of Mesopotamia. Keep doing what you’re doing, sir. I look forward to your next endeavor.