Next Friday, September 7th, the Tunisian horror film Dachra, the debut feature by Abdelhamid Bouchnak, will have its World Premiere in Venice. We are proud to share the trailer for Bouchnak's horror film with you, one of the first ever genre titles to come out of Tunisia and North Africa.
We think it does a really good job of setting the mood at first before it switches gears and hits with rapid fire images of horror and blood. There certainly does appear to be no shortage of horror which is encouraging. And is it us or does look to be a very ‘hands on’ kind of horror film. Clutching, grabbing and gripping hands sure do show up a lot in this trailer.
Have a look below then come back for more information about Dachra.
Yassmine, a Tunisian journalism student, and her two male buddies set out on a university assignment to solve the cold case of Mongia, a woman found mutilated 25 years ago, now imprisoned in an asylum, suspected of witchcraft. As they pursue their investigation, the three friends stumble into the archaic and ominous world of Dachra, an isolated countryside compound filled with goats, silent women, mysterious drying meat and steaming pots. They’re welcomed to stay overnight by the jovial yet menacing cult leader, but when Yassmine discovers Dachra’s secrets, she must escape before she is consumed…
It is always handy when you have been provided press book in advance of the film's premiere. Director Abdelhamid Bouchnak speaks in it about the real life events alluded to in the trailer that influenced his story in Dachra. So, this is awful. Over the years in Tunisia and other African countries family members have killed children in their family in the name of witchcraft and sorcery. They are pursuing the promise of treasure that can only be released by an offering of 'pure and noble blood'. So some of the horror in Dachra is influenced by awful real life events and we do not know if we really want to see that play out in a horror film, but we consider ourselves warned.
On to slightly cheerier things. Bouchnak cites great Russian filmmakers Andrei Tarkovsky and Andrey Zvyagintsev as visual influences for his first film...
In terms of the visual treatment for Dachra, Tarkovsky's Stalker was definitely a key reference. I wanted to disturb the viewer with a 'heavy' use of framing, light and movement, almost to over-saturate their senses. I tried to mix the more poetic inspiration that I find in films like Stalker or The Return by Andrey Zvyagintsev with a more straightforward 'American style' three act construction.
And we need to see more genre cinema where the Muslim faith is also fairly represented as well, shake up our Worldviews a bit...
I'm using the grandfather's character in a precise way. When he appears he's often reciting very specific Koranic verses, the verses we've been using ever since early childhood to chase away bad luck and evil spirits. Even when we took our school exams we recited them first. It's become a habit that has nothing more to do with the religious aspect, but is more of a cultural habit. Integrating the Koran and the ritualistic aspects into this kind of film introduces a combination that I think is all the more terrifying for local Arab audiences, because they can also recognize their own lives and ways of doing in those verses. From early on in the film, starting with the ritual mortuary bath scene, I want the spectator to see something of themselves on screen, knowing that they'll one day end up in the same position as the dead man they are watching. The way people perceive these scenes will be quite different depending on what culture they approach them from.
We hope Dachra gets to travel beyond Venice. It would be cool to see a horror film set in an African nation, surround by the Muslim faith and entwined in the supernatural.