Cinepocalypse 2019: Unleashing the Feeding Frenzy of ‘Achoura’ (2018)

Achoura (2018) is making its appearance this weekend during the 2019 Cinepocalypse Genre Film Fest. Talal Selhami (Creature Designers – The Frankenstein Complex 2015, Mirages 2010, Sinistra 2006) directed this French Moroccan horror fantasy movie which he co-wrote with Frère II Sang’s Jawad Lahlou and David Villemin. The film was produced by Overlook Films, Moon & Deal Films and Orange Studio. In Achoura, Selhmai creates a beautiful playground for Bougatate, the demon of Islamic folklore that feeds on children.

Synopsis:

Four children enjoy scaring each other and decide to explore a cursed, probably haunted house. One of them disappears under mysterious circumstances. The three survivors try to forget what happened, at least until Samir reappears 25 years later. The group will eventually have to confront the past.

Overview:

A young girl and a boy venture off into a corn field as they plan on running away together. The children are chased to a large house hidden behind some overgrown bushes and trees. This is where they encounter Bougatate. Fast forward to real time, and the story follows Nadia (Sofiia Manousha: Black Really Suits You 2012), her husband, Detective Ali (Younes Bouab: Deep State TV series), and their son, Youssef. Ali is diligently working on a case to find those responsible for a number of missing children.

The demon Bougatate has a Predator vibe to his aesthetic.

Meanwhile, the viewer is teased with the junction between times past and present times. A young boy practicing his footwork with a soccer ball stumbles upon a disheveled man tied up in an abandoned warehouse. In his truly innocent nature, the boy asks if the man wants to play but is ferociously interrupted by a second man who warns him to stay away.

Nadia’s reaction to the art show.

Back to Nadia as she is attending a friend, Stéphane’s (Iván González: ABCs of Death 2 2014 – read our retro review here), art show. The subject of the show triggers a frantic reaction in her, and she storms out. A flashback sequence presents Nadia, Stephen, Ali and his brother, Samir, as children. Through this, we learn of a love triangle between Nadia, Ali, and Stephen that developed as kids and was never put to rest, even as adults. Within the flashback, Nadia tells of the horrible stories she heard about the infamous old French House, and the bizarre things she seen from a distance. She proclaims it is the house where a demon lives who feasts on children.

Surprise, surprise… the little boy from earlier didn’t stay away from the captured man. In fact, he helps free the man’s mouth from the bar wedged between his teeth, but realizes that something is wrong with him. Looking sick, he yells for the boy to run away. Again, he ignores the warning and watches in horror as something crawls from the man’s stomach, up and out of his mouth. With that, another missing child case has been reported, but this time, a suspect is willingly placed in custody.

Young Ali, Stephen, and Nadia

During the interrogation, Ali learns that the man waiting for him – the one who just released the demon from his mouth – is his brother, Samir, who was feared dead 25 years ago but has now reunited with Ali and will provide key information to help solve the missing children cases. Simultaneously, Nadia meets privately with Stéphane. She wants to apologize for her abrupt departure, and the two discuss more than what happen at the art show. During these two conversations, the audience watches as the bigger story unravels, revealing the root between these four characters and Bougatate. The measures they take to try to stop the demon are profound and heroic.

My Thoughts:

There is something alluring about another culture’s perception of fear or what they classify as scary. I feel it’s universally known that anything that preys on the innocence of children is terrifying and inhabits evil. Taking a religious element and tying it in with the folklore creates a fresh approach from other stories that could have influenced this film.

I enjoyed the story that played out in Achoura. It following these characters from childhood throughout their adulthood. Everything escalates after the backstory is revealed, which had me on my toes trying to piece it all together. The details are greatly appreciated in the way they affirm the characters and seamlessly fit in the whole picture. With the subtitles, I gave it a second watch in order to catch all the details and thoroughly enjoy the film in its entirety. My only complaint is how dark the film was edited. I needed to increase the brightness of my screen, and that took away from the scare factor.

Regardless, I would recommend Achoura based on the creepy element in its story telling and imagery. Definitely check it out if given the opportunity.

About Anna

Hello readers, I was born and raised in Southern California. Throughout my upbringing I grew fond of the horror movie genre thanks to my mother. With my interest in true crime, I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in forensic investigation. I enjoy art of all kind and appreciate subject matter outside the social norm. I like to engage in conversation involving my passions, so lets talk.

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