This past week brought me the trailer for what will surely be one of my favourite horror films. Given the state of global and local politics, some people might argue that the week itself was nothing short of a horror film. But, the fright of reality can only take us so far. At the end of the day, most of us harken for something more sinister. Nothing beats the twisted satisfaction of a good ghost story.
Pakistan has a spooky tradition. A lot of us will remember listening to dark tales that our grandmothers or mothers swore really happened. And this tradition did make its way to our cinematic archives. Granted, Pakistani film itself has had a turbulent journey so it isn’t surprising that local horror movies faced ample road-bumps. But, Pakistani horror movies exist. We did a whole video about them.
And yes, they do lack in the special effects department. But a number of them are promising. That being said I do feel that there is one trend that we haven’t fully capitalized on. I am of course talking about Pakistani versions of prominent horror films. Zibakhana went into this head-on. And came up with something quite remarkable. But the others haven’t really set out to localize an international horror film (or films).
Remakes are not new for the genre. Look at the number of Asian horror films that were given a big-budget Hollywood rendition. I suppose this boils down to the fact that we are all afraid of similar if not the same things. Granted our threshold for fear varies. But a creepy little girl coming out of the television screen? I’m willing to wager that most of us would find that terrifying.
So, as an ode to my obvious love for everything that is dark, here are five horror films that need to be remade in Pakistan.
Released in 2013, this film is about a family, a mirror and the possibility of insidious forces emitting from said mirror.
It follows a brother and sister duo coping with a personal tragedy. The sister, played by Karen Gillian, is convinced that everything that everything that went wrong was a direct result of an antique mirror.
I am not revealing any aspect of the plot, because figuring out what happened and when it happened is part of this film’s charm. It builds on the idea of a mirror obscuring quality, and plays around with illusion and reality.
The reason why this film is on this list is because it doesn’t deal with culturally specific elements. Often a horror movie is brimming with local myths and iconography. This is why the image of a pale young girl with long black hair is so quintessentially Asian horror (Cabin in the Woods even made fun of this trope). But here the focus is on illusion and reality, and the scares emerge from not being able to believe one’s eyes.
It isn’t surprising that it inspired a 2017 Bollywood remake. A Pakistani remake would be just as unsurprising, and work just as well.
4. The Evil Dead
When a film initiates not just a franchise but an entire movie trope, it deserves multiple remakes. The original ‘five unsuspecting teens go to a secluded cabin in the woods and then all hell breaks lose’ movie, this one is a cult classic that has inspired multiple sequels. It is also a contemporary Hollywood classic. “Why would it work in Pakistan then?” you might ask. Well, remember how I said that we lack in the special effects department? This film lacked in the special effects department as well. But, it also revealed in it. The almost comedic visuals gave it a unique. Also given the bizarre horror films that came out of Pakistan in the nineties, a local remake of this bizarre classic can be an homage to it and Pakistan’s own horror history.
3. The Conjuring
This is arguably the most successful recent horror film, which isn’t surprising. Demonic possessions, an adorable family, their haunted house and a creepy doll. Pakistan has many remote idyllic but still creepy locations, so a remake won’t have to worry about that. We also love possession (Siyaah is proof). As far as the creepy doll goes, well have you seen local cloth puppets?
2. Ju On: The Grudge
The original Japanese version. Not the Hollywood remake, thank you very much. Why is this distinction important to make? Well, firstly because the original holds up after all this time while the remake doesn’t. But also, an aspect of Asian horror that has always interested me is the fact that the inhuman entity in Asian horror films are often given a sympathetic back story. This was the case in films like Shutter and Ring. Ju On has this quality in spades. The story revolves around a man who, in a fit of rage, murders his wife and child. This births a curse, literally known as ‘the grudge’ which consumes anyone who ventures into their home.
What makes this film special is also that it serves as a harrowing metaphor for domestic abuse. Horror as a genre is an uncommon conduit for lessons, but it actually works surprisingly well. Crocodile Fury is one of my favourite books and it uses horror to empower the typical colonial subject. Given Pakistan’s history with violence, specifically domestic violence, this could be one of those rare horror films that works both as a freight fest and a statement.
If you like horror, you’d know that this is the aforementioned film the trailer for which was released this week. Now technically this is in itself the adaptation of a Stephen King novel and the reboot of a mini-series. But, it takes on a tried and tested formula. The novel inspired the killer-clown frenzy.
Pakistan too has a history with clowns.
The circus has been a humble yet persistent part of our culture.
They also show up in music videos.
They are also creepy.
So this one should be a no brainer. Particularly since it inspired an Indian mini-series which was quite popular in Pakistan as well.
Plus, the true horror in the novel, the mini-series and, based on the trailer, and the film itself stems from the uncertainty and awkwardness of childhood. A lot of the tension is a result of the adults not believing the children about the clown. Anyone who spent their childhood in Pakistan can affirm that this fear has been a part of all our lives. The adults not listening I mean, not the killer clown.