With a dark, sharp, contrast-y, palette (with a striking dash of highlighted magenta) Siyaah (‘Pitch black’),looks the part of those routine “Friday-night” horror movies at the US box-office.
It is a smart choice, since the “routine” should work quite well in its favor, because convention and commercial convention, at that – is perhaps the best bet Pakistani cinema has at the moment.
Siyaah (not to be confused by another “Siyaah”), is – as its Producers say – “a classic tale of a modern family haunted by their own disbeliefs”, a “skin-crawling punch of horror which will leave you squealing with fear and anxiety”.
From what footage is cut-into its promotion, a young girl is possessed by the supernatural (gnashing teeth, scruffy hair, growling voice of evil, defiance of Sir Issac Newton’s exceptionally-obvious breakthrough). Of course, disbelieving adults will follow suit soon enough.
From its teaser and final trailer, which Producer Imran Raza Kazmi, the film renders a mash-up of popular horror lore (The Exorcist and The Possession) with a psychological tilt. Its lead actress, Hareem Farooq says at one point:
“You should believe in the devil, because he believes in you” (a line, rephrased from Constantine, though it is said with solemn originality by Ms. Farooq.
While Ms. Farooq seems fine, it is obvious that the film will have amateur performances at regular intervals.
First time director Azfar Jafri has a solid grasp on his scenes, but it is far too early to see where Osman Khalid Butt’s screenplay (with a story by Mr. Kazmi, Yasir Hussain, Mr. Butt and Mr. Jafri; conceived by Zara Zaman Khan) will trip up.
To expect unadulterated freshness, is cruel to a debuting endeavor. However, by ambiance alone – and partly judging from the Sound Editing (the film’s Editing is by Sameer Hamdani and Mr. Jafri) – the product has half-sold its price of admission.
Siyaah, produced by IRK Film, releases on the 15th of March 2013 by Footprint Entertainment and Cinepax Cinemas.
Mohammad Kamran Jawaid is the Senior Film Critic for Images on Sunday and Dawn.com.