The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Shudder] - KANDISHA | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Shudder] - KANDISHA

kandisha review
A teenage girl must find a way to dismiss the malevolent spirit she summoned.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo

Starring: Mathilde Lamusse, Samarcande Saadi, Suzy Bemba

North African folklore meets North American grindhouse influences in Kandisha, the latest offering from Gallic gorehounds Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. Kandisha takes a malevolent spirit from Moroccan mythology and repurposes her as the sort of villain you might have found in a 1980s Hollywood horror movie.

kandisha review

According to Moroccan lore, Aicha Kandicha is something of a cousin of Ireland's Banshee or Latin America's La Llorona. Like the latter she is said to lurk around bodies of water, though that aspect is ignored by Bustillo and Maury. In their version she's a feminist avenging angel who can be summoned by a woman to enact vengeance upon any male who does them wrong.

Having learned of Kandisha from her Moroccan friend Morjana (Samarcande Saadi), Amelie (Mathilde Lamusse) calls forth the spirit when she survives an attempted rape by her ex-boyfriend. The young man in question is killed when he seemingly runs right into an oncoming car.

kandisha review

Amelie, Morjana and their friend Bintou (Suzy Bemba) dismiss it as coincidence at first, but when their male friends start dying in bizarre ways, they realise that Kandisha has indeed crossed the portal into our own world. Before you can say "not all men," the Moroccan meanie is offing everything with a penis in the bloodiest of manners. Can the girls find a way to send her back?

Bustillo and Maury are biting off quite a lot here. Along with its quasi-feminist allegory, there's a subplot about gentrification and France's current quest to demolish the notorious banlieue tower blocks of its multi-cultural suburbs (see also the recent Gagarine). But the main subtext here seems to concern cultural appropriation. It's no coincidence that of the racially diverse lead trio (a gender reversal of the leads of banlieue classic La Haine), it's the caucasian Amelie who summons a spirit whose powers she's completely ignorant of. Critics of cultural appropriation argue that you should be prepared to take the bad with the good rather than cherry picking the pleasantries of an alien culture. Amelie sure gets the bad here, as her male mates are (literally) ripped asunder by the titular terror.

kandisha review

Pardon me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe either Bustillo or Maury have any North African roots, which would make them guilty of the very thing they're critiquing. In their hands, Aicha Kandicha becomes a sort of Freddy Kreuger knockoff, even growing to giant like status when she needs to physically overpower her male victims. With her hoofed feet, she often comes off as a particularly angry Miss Piggy, but she's certainly one of the more memorable horror antagonists of recent times. Bustillo and Maury may be treading on dodgy ground here, but that's for Arab critics to decide. I'm just glad they managed to pull off a pacy, commendably schlocky horror movie that hints at societal and cultural issues without ever getting bogged down in them in the manner of many recent American genre efforts.

Kandisha is on Shudder from July 22nd.

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