Vash 2023 film poster

Vash Film Review

Why I took it off the list:

The poster for this Indian horror flick caught my eye. Intrigued by the synopsis, I decided to check it out.

So, let’s dig in!

Review of Vash (2023)

This Indian psychological horror flick hails from the state of Gujarat, whose film output has apparently traditionally been more of the romance kind.

This first foray into horror cinema is clearly inspired by Hollywood examples of the genre, as it follows a well-off family on a road trip to their rural ‘farmhouse’ (in actual fact a sleek, modern mansion) where bad things go down.

It’s a familiar set-up, and follows many of the beats of a traditional home-invasion thriller, but with some distinctly local flavor.

After arriving at their destination, the picture-perfect family are torn apart from the inside by a malevolent stranger with dark powers who targets the teenage daughter with sinister intent.

It’s slickly produced, and visually and aesthetically stands up to any similar Hollywood horror. The film has some melodramatic elements that veer into unintentional comedy, and the parents of the family come across as a bit one-note compared to the other performers.

However, it’s mostly a taught thriller that unfolds a nightmarish scenario with considerable tension. It inspired a Bollywood remake, Shaitan, but apparently it’s vastly inferior and even stops the gruesome action for a song-and-dance number (!).

Outlandish Premise Kept Grounded by Great Acting

The central concept of the film is that mysterious stranger Pratap (Hiten Kumar) casts some sort of spell over the teenage daughter (Janki Bodiwala) that obliges her to do whatever he says.

When he later shows up at the ‘farmhouse’ doorstep with the intent to take her away from her family, this leads to some harrowing and ultimately bloody stand-offs between the helpless girl and her parents.

As the girl is mysteriously compelled to do whatever Pratap says, this allows Bodiwala to give a total powerhouse of a performance that switches from anguished, to ecstatically happy, to murderously enraged on the whim of the man’s commands.

The parent’s nightmarish realization that their daughter has been turned against them and could kill them at any second adds to the film’s considerable escalating tension.

Putting aside the unexplained dark magic element of it all, this is a pretty compelling concept that the filmmakers play out in a series of increasingly tense confrontations, helped enormously by the sheer malevolence that Kumar oozes as Pratap.

The moral of the story is a bit simplistic (it basically boils down to ‘STRANGER DANGER!!’), and the messaging is ultimately a bit confused (it seems unsure whether giving a teenage girl power over her autonomy is good or bad). However, the film is a solid/horror thriller that continues to shock with macabre and well-executed set pieces until the end.

Final score: 7/10

Vash (2023): Worth Watching?

Yes, Vash‘s solid central concept and some admirably committed performances make it a compelling horror/thriller that’s tense and quite shocking, despite some outlandish elements and muddled moral messaging.

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