03rd Aug2020

Trailer and poster for stunning Fantasia 2020 horror ‘Kriya’

by Phil Wheat

One of Fantasia 2020’s hottest premieres is Kriya, which comes from writer/director Sidharth Srinivasan of Reel Illusion Films (Soul of Sand), and producers Tejash Shah of Accord Equips Pvt. Ltd. (Headhunter) and B. S. Narayanaswamy (Court).

DJ Neel encounters the ravishing Sitara while working a club set one night and is transfixed by her. They return to Sitara’s place where Neel is horrified to see the gagged and shackled body of her dying father – Sitara’s grieving family keeping vigil around it. Caught completely unawares, Neel’s compassion is nevertheless aroused and he stays on. In India, patriarchal custom dictates that only a son can perform a parent’s last rites, but no such person exists in Sitara’s family. So when her father actually dies during the course of the night, Sitara coerces Neel to officiate the rituals of death. Thrust into a world of magic and transgression, Neel finally attempts to flee his waking nightmare. But as dawn breaks, it becomes evident that Sitara’s family is afflicted by an ancient curse. One that Neel is now very much a part of.

New Delhi filmmaker Sidharth Srinivasan’s first horror work (and first narrative feature in a decade, following Soul of Sand, an acclaimed selection at TIFF and Rotterdam), Kriya comes at the viewer with seductive allure and a uniquely venomous bite. It’s an aesthetically beautiful film, mystically atmospheric and imbued with a creeping unease that casts an uncommon spell. It’s also startlingly transgressive.

While the film is vibrant with stark imagery and an amusingly dark sense of humour, Kriya is also very much a work of confrontational art. One that subverts Hindu ritual traditions and shrieks against its debasement of women in clever and compelling ways. Co-Produced by Andy Starke (In Fabric) and Pete Tombs (Free Fire), with an unforgettable score by Jim Williams (Possessor, Raw), Kriya is a strange and wondrous nightmare odyssey of ritual magic.

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