Directed by Abdelhamid Bouchnak • Drama • With Yassmine Dimassi, Hela Ayed, Aziz Jebali • 2018 • 114 minutes
Ever since she was discovered naked and near-dead decades ago, Mongia has been institutionalized, with a tendency to bite her nurses. Grisly, frightening, and stuffed with howling thrills, the new Tunisian horror film DACHRA won over both Frightfest and the Venice Film Festival and is finally making its US debut.
Equal parts Midsommar and The Blair Witch Project, DACHRA begins with a simple classroom assignment and spins through double plot twists into high-tension cannibal sorcery. Sent off with a documentary video assignment, three journalism students decide to interview Mongia, seeking new clues about the cold case. Intrigued and perturbed by the deranged woman’s story, the trio take their camera to the scene of the crime deep in the woods, led by the headstrong young investigator Yassmine. Soon they are welcomed to a secluded, hushed village.
With superlative craft, first-time director Abdelhamid Bouchnak weaves together North African folklore and the tried-and-true B-movie magic that made his debut a runaway hit in his home country. DACHRA maintains a high level of suspense and sophistication with its carefully calibrated narrative, strong performances, and its genre-expanding ethereal dread.
"Tunisia's first horror movie marks a bold entrance into the realm of genre film. Bouchnak's debut wears its influences on its sleeves but fully embraces the darkness to bring a new cultural tale of gruesome, dread-filled horror." —Bloody Disgusting