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A monster of a movie

Updated September 22, 2014

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India’s first 3D creature feature uses an abundance of computer graphics, a stockpile of narrative cliché and ho-hum acting in what could essentially be a B-grade, direct-to-video release. But for the time being, it is still playing in theatres.

Creature 3D stars Imran Abbas the perfunctory supporting lead to Bipasha Basu’s Ahana, a strong-willed entrepreneur who opens a newly-furnished resort in the woods of Himachal Pradesh, India. The resort is backed by a bank (Abbas’ character calls them “bloody vultures”) and its selling point is its surrounding forest, which is the stalking grounds of the ‘Creature’ — a half-reptilian man born from a century-old curse bound to a peepal tree. When construction workers tear down the tree, it gives the thing an unrestrained license to start its bloody rampage.

Basu’s character is pressured by the bank to take drastic measures and she, with a zoologist-cum-occult enthusiast (Mukul Dev), a lone believing police officer (Deepraj Rana) and of course Abbas, set out to hunt down the abomination (after all, having a monster in your backyard is bad for business).

The creature is impervious to regular ammunition, so our heroes arm themselves with seven holy bullets and a single-barrel gun. The supporting cast, though adequate actors, serves as creature fodder.

While the theme is done to death, the film’s formulaic nature and director Vikram Bhatt’s old hand at directing horror-esque dramas turns the experience into passable entertainment. Emblematical filmmaking conventions in such cases are a necessity. The few movie sets are lit using old-school methods with differing wattages of light and hard shadows. About 70 per cent of the cinematography (by Praveen Bhatt, the director’s father) is fixed to fundamental camera movements like track-ins and track-outs. I am also guessing that the 3D is added in post-production, because the image-plane looks linear in most scenes.

The monster’s initial entries are limited to shots of its tail or twisted claws, looking like a reject twin of the Lizard from The Amazing Spider-Man. He roars (badly-dubbed human voice), gallops unpersuasively and chomps off human heads (savage and hungry, we’re told). The ‘Creature’ is also a very bad actor.

Abbas playing a visiting novelist with a back-story is satisfactorily embedded in the plot. The romantic interludes between Abbas and Basu are uncommonly restrained, as is the sexuality often found in Vikram Bhatt’s movies. At one point in the screenplay by Bhatt and Sukhmani Sadana, Mukul Dev’s zoologist tells Basu’s character: “It’s always difficult finding solutions to folklore.” And so our heroes need to find the lone temple of the deity Bramha to help them end the creature’s reign.

Creature 3D is a perfect low-budget creature feature genre. It’s predictable fare, no matter who it casts or how it exploits the 3D gimmickry.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, September 21st, 2014