Kandisha Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Shudder
Written and directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury
2020, 85 minutes, Not Rated
Premieres on Shudder 22nd July 2021
Mathilde Lamusse as Amélie
Suzy Bemba as Bintou
Samarcande Saadi as Morjana
Walid Afkir as Recteur
After being brutally attacked by her ex-boyfriend, Amélie (Mathilde Lamusse) wreaks a terrible revenge. Drawing bloody pentagrams on the bathroom wall, she summons the vengeance demon Kandisha, who makes short work of the little man. With him dead, she’s ready to move on with her life and get back to her friends, Bintou (Suzy Bemba) and Morjana (Samarcande Saadi). But ancient vengeance demons are not so easily re-bottled. Once the killing starts, there’s no stopping the bloodthirsty Kandisha – as the men and boys in Amélie’s life are about to find out. Yes, All Men.
This supernatural horror film marks the return of Inside, Among the Living and, uh, Leatherface directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. After their disappointing (but not really their fault) Texas Chainsaw prequel, this is a return to more familiar territory. Which is to say, France. Some might think that urban legends and Islamic spirits are outside of Bustillo and Maury’s usual wheelhouse (extreme violence and quasi-torture flicks) but, Leatherface aside, their movies always did have a twisted fairytale feeling about them.
Their Kandisha is a kind of supernatural slasher movie, featuring an unstoppable demon which kills only men and boys – a gender-flipped Candyman in an Islamic veil. The Candyman parallels (vengeful spirit, summoned by repeating its name in a bathroom a bunch of times) only intensify with the inner city setting. Bustillo and Maury, then, stand apart in the same way as they always have – by utilizing intense, uncomfortable, upsetting violence against not-always deserving victims.
Their previous movies have already proved that Bustillo and Maury care not a jot for your boundaries, especially where child murder is concerned. Amélie’s little brother? He had best watch his back. And the cute little bunny rabbit? It’s no spoiler to say that the thing is doomed from the very first frame. This may be the pair’s most overtly fantastical movie so far, but it’s still very much a work of Alexandre Bustillo and Julian Maury.
Like the Kandisha, the film builds slowly, getting bigger and nastier as it notches up the kills. Limbs snap, heads split and bodies burn; Kandisha pulls no punches. The story is nothing original (a little bit It Follows, a little bit Drag me to Hell), but it has an impressive control over tone and atmosphere. And it has a great monster in the hoof-legged, veil-faced Kandisha. Kandisha’s scares are mostly superficial – there’s very little tension, lots of messy violence - but the creature design is outstanding. If the French ever needed a horror icon of its own, they could do far worse than this one.
What Kandisha lacks in novelty or suspense, it makes up for with a great monster and a genuinely likeable set of young heroines. This is a thrilling return to form for Bustillo and Maury; an urban spook ‘em up with a twist of French extremism.
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