Into The Weird Woods: Our Review of ‘Dachra’ on OVID

Posted in What's Streaming? by - August 09, 2023
Into The Weird Woods: Our Review of ‘Dachra’ on OVID

Abdelhamid Bouchnak and his crew called their film Dachra the first Tunisian horror film. Something that feels that novel became a box office hit in that country. The film is about three student filmmakers, Bilel (Bilel Slatnia), Walid (Aziz Jbali), and Yasmine (Yassmine Dimassi). They’re taking a class where their big assignment is creating a documentary. For their subject, they choose a violent patient in an insane asylum, Mongia (Hela Ayed). And after being unable to get proper permits, they go into her room where this patient attacks them. Out of stubbornness, they choose to tell the story using another angle. They want to find the place where people find her. This leads them to a mysterious forest.

Yasmine sticks out for being the trio’s only female member. Sticking out isn’t a quality that neither Bilel nor Walid has, but repeat viewings show that Walid has instincts when it comes to finding trails in the forest while Bilel doesn’t. This trail leads them to a more mysterious village that they may not escape. While this is happening Dachra‘s b-plot involves Yasmine’s grandfather Bechir (Bahri Rahli), who, let’s go back up a bit, takes care of Yasmine as she has nightmares as she plans the documentary. He tells the crew not to go into the woods, they do anyway, and he debates whether or not he should go after them.

Dachra is Bouchnek’s narrative feature and it shows in many ways. The villagers put the trio up in new quarters. And a lot of the film’s second act is just Yasmine looking out of the window. There’s also some unnecessary b-roll. This footage attempts and halway succeeds in making viewers feel a mood that many horror films deliver now anyway. It uses a lot of dark filter. It’s as if it’s overly emphasizing that yes we should be afraid of the village and for the crew. Although with that, it makes for an interesting detail that the film takes place during the fall. These seasons feel more familiar to local viewers than Western ones.

Yes, a lot of the elements in Dachra feel like it’s rehashing Western horror from two decades ago, and the characters need more nuance to them, but that nuance pops out in the situation that the main three characters find themselves in. They defend their position of them sleeping in the same quarters because they’d rather break social norms than split up within a village that’s weirding them out. It makes for an interesting cultural text without it blatantly being one, and maybe it says more about me that I didn’t see the twist coming. OVID’s making a good decision to include more horror films in their platform.

Watch Dachra on OVID.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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