I have tons of Bollywood productions to watch, but they're often very long and rarely having the coherent storyline I often demand, especially when I'm tired from work and want to focus on something. I've had Raat laying around for quite some time now. I actually don't remember when and how I bought it (scary!), but there it was and the reviews and comments on the dreaded IMDB wasn't that negative. So I gave it a spin.
To my surprise Raat belongs to those few Bollywood horror films that's just two hours long, doesn't one single musical number and completely lacks any kind of humour. That's a good thing, at least today when I wanted something completely non-silly. Raat reminds me of a lot of American horror films from the 70's and 80's, without ripping them off too much. The story isn't bad at all and the characters behave quite realistic. For example, the family everything evolves around feels modern and intelligent, something I feel is very rare in Indian cinema. The story is about a family who moves to a haunted house. Something is spreading evil around the neighborhood and soon that thing takes over the daughter, possesses her and makes her a very violent and dangerous person. Soon people starts to die...
Raat is a mix between The Amityville Horror (it's been a lot about that house the last few days here, sorry!), Pet Sematary, The Exorcist... and actually a little bit Evil Dead-ish how the demon-thingie lurks around in the forest. I've heard some reviewers bringing up Poltergeist and Friday the 13th also, but I can't seriously find any reference to those two titles. The daughter Manisha is played by Revathy, who's a bit too old (like old "teen" actors in this film) to be a revolting teenager, but makes a believable performance as a girl getting possessed by an aggressive spirit. Fine character actor Om Puri shows up as the exorcist/paranormal expert/holy man and is very, very good. He takes over the few scenes he's in.
What's extra fun is that Raat during some parts is quiet creepy. Director Ram Gopal Varma makes a good use of the horror scenes, working hard to make them a bit more scary than graphic - which is both good and bad of course. It's still violent, not much, but enough and it works in the story. The finale, which echoes both giallos, Amityville 3D and something else I've seen but can't put my finger on, is very impressive and eerie.
Raat still feels very modern, very fresh. If it would have been made today everyone would have praised the retro-style, the low-key but still spectacular story. But this is a real, non-ironic, horror film and it works so good.
Good one. Recommended.