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‘Dachra’ review: Truth and lies from Tunisia’s “first” horror movie

‘Blair Witch’ meets ‘Chainsaw Massacre’.

Dachra begins and ends its grisly tale about witchcraft and cannibals with text stating it is inspired by true events. It is a bold move for a horror movie to make – especially one as wild as this Tunisian export. Three university journalism students are tasked by their professor with completing an investigative report. They can do it on whatever they want but it must have exclusivity. When cameraman Belil’s suggestion leads them to an isolated village, they discover a horrible secret.

Dachra gives off heavy The Blair Witch Project vibes that go beyond the premise. The three leads are constantly arguing – to a frustrating degree. On the plus side, the amount of shaky cam is limited. The film also contains many familiar horror tropes. There are plenty of jump scares and frightening moments that turn out to be dreams. The supposed first Tunisian horror movie certainly did its homework.

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At times, it seems like Dachra will be little more than a sometimes serviceable horror retread. While it never completely gets away from its influences, the movie will eventually win many over. From the beginning, writer-Director Abdelhamid Bouchnak gives the film a creepy atmosphere. The entire movie is grey and worn. A sense of tension permeates everything.

Dachra | Dekanalog US Trailer from Dekanalog on Vimeo.

About halfway through, a new plot thread is introduced. At this point, the mystery deepens while the horror elements become more pronounced. It adds another layer that may not be entirely original to horror fans, but it brings something unique to Dachra. Things are now able to take on a cultural significance that is not found in horror movies in the United States.

A running theme throughout the film is the idea of modernity versus superstition and tradition. What are initially just throwaway comments are brought to the forefront in gory fashion. It is unexpected and works well. Dachra is a fine horror film with some very noticeable flaws. It runs a little long and the constant squabbling between the leads can be off putting. Still, some interesting camerawork and a scary tale are to be found.

Dachra comes to theaters July 9

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