CFF Review: Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s ‘Kandisha’
There’s not enough urban legend horror in the vein of “Candyman” still being made these days, which makes Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s frightening and polished “Kandisha” feel like a much needed entry into the genre. The general method of summoning the spirit here is familiar: simply say Aicha Kandisha’s name five times after drawing a pentagram, and the jinn will come and mercilessly kill the target you asked for help in dealing with before returning to hell. The catch is that there’s intricate rules to this practice and it doesn’t end when you want it to, only when the ritualistic process is complete.
After being introduced to several very “punk-rock” French teens and given a glimpse into their day to day lives, the horror begins when the main character (Amélie, played by Mathilde Lamusse) is assaulted by her ex and summons Kandisha to help her rid her life of this terrible person. It works, and she immediately feels guilty, but that guilt quickly turns into fear when they realize after a second death occurs that it’s far from over. The rest of the film follows Amélie and her two best friends as they frantically try and put a stop to Kandisha’s murderous wrath before she kills anyone else in their lives.
There’s a heap of good kills in this movie, all of which are extremely gory with phenomenal effects work and supported by a creature design that’s terrifyingly unique. Dressed in traditional black garments with massive hooves as feet, Kandisha is a strikingly standout and scary sight to behold anytime she’s on screen, which makes the scares all the more effective. The performances are convincing enough from the teens, with none feeling necessarily standout but also never feeling subpar.
The atmosphere the film builds from start to finish is consistent and paced exceptionally well with a nice balance of characterization, mystery, and bloodshed that makes this a must-see for fans of urban legend infused horror. You can summon the entity yourself on Shudder and AMC+ now.