Emirati horror movies explore region’s fascination with the supernatural

Tariq Al-Kazim is working on the film "A Tale of Shadows: Illusions". (Supplied photo)
Updated 23 October 2019

Emirati horror movies explore region’s fascination with the supernatural

  • Horror films are fast emerging as a notable genre within the UAE's film industry
  • Horror films need neither big budgets nor marquee names to be effective

DUBAI: Whether it’s an audience need for escapism or a way to explore danger safely, horror films are fast emerging as a notable genre within the fledgeling Emirati film industry.

Several recent films have braved cinematic elements in recent years. Tobe Hooper’s “Djinn,” produced by Abu Dhabi production house Image Nation, broke the mold in 2013, and set new records as it explored the region’s fascination with the supernatural.

Emirati filmmaker Nayla Al-Khaja has recently finished “The Shadow,” a teaser for an extended feature believed to be based on actual events.

UAE-based Lebanese producer-director Rami Yasin is working on a vampire family drama, “Three Four Eternity,” for Image Nation.

Meanwhile, director Tariq Al-Kazim has begun pre-production on a sequel to 2017’s “A Tale of Shadows,” an English-language film about a gardener who is deeply disturbed by his experiences at a farm where he works.

The latest installment, “A Tale of Shadows: Illusions,” follows the story of a young girl who appears in a hospital, her body mysteriously drenched in blood. A local detective teams up with a journalist to investigate, and the pair land up at an eerie farm, where they find themselves enveloped in a world of illusion, chaos and madness.





The film is brought to life by an international cast, including Nigerian actor Chuka Ekweogwu, German actress Arzu Neuwirth and Swedish actor Almer Agmyren.

Emirati artist Samar Al-Shamsi, better known for the “Arab Mona Lisa” painting, also makes her screen debut in the film. 

Al-Kazim told Arab News that the film could reach cinemas early next year.

The filmmaker believes that horror movies allow him to reach audiences beyond his home country without breaking the bank.

“Horror is an interesting topic because regardless of where a person is from, when a movie is scary, it engenders fear,” Al-Kazim said.

The 26-year-old Emirati has been drawn to the genre since he was a child and has created a name for himself among regional horror fans.

Last year he released “Until Midnight,” which told the story of a newly married young man who encounters a stranger with evil intentions.

Horror films need neither big budgets or marquee names to be effective. “The Blair Witch Project,” for example, made $248 million on a budget of $60,000.

While this allows rookie filmmakers room to experiment, shoestring budgets cut both ways.




Romanian actor Robert Cristian Trif. (Supplied)

“It’s actually tough to make a horror film. You need to be able to do it correctly without any mistakes, even in the split second of a frame,” Al-Kazim said.

“But that’s a challenge I like and one of the reasons I choose to make horror films.”

Although “A Tale of Shadows” was initially planned as a trilogy, positive response to the first instalment, which premiered in Dubai and played across the UAE, brought Al-Kazim back to the story.

The UAE film industry needs more incentives to make an impact internationally, he said, but Emirati filmmakers can reach broader audiences by tackling universal themes.

“I think we’re on the right track. However, more movies need to be developed. Without an increase in the number of movies, there will be fewer celebrities, a smaller market, fewer stories and less interest, so it all starts with having a big push to really build this industry,” he said.

“There are several ways to achieve a broader range of audiences, but it’s all about the story. It needs to be universally relatable.”

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This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. 

 

 


Rapper Nipsey Hussle wins two posthumous Grammys

Updated 27 January 2020

Rapper Nipsey Hussle wins two posthumous Grammys

  • ‘We all loved him, we all miss him. It is terrible that we had to lose him so early’
  • Long part of the underground rap circuit, Hussle struggled to find fame but began selling his own mixtapes

LOS ANGELES: The late rapper Nipsey Hussle on Sunday won two posthumous Grammys, on a night when his life was celebrated in a moving musical tribute led by singer John Legend.
Less than a year after his shock murder in broad daylight in Los Angeles, Hussle won awards for Best Rap Performance for “Racks in the Middle” along with Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Higher.”
“I want to thank all of you for supporting this and for lifting Nipsey’s name up,” said Legend, who along with DJ Khaled performed “Higher” and accepted the award.
“We all loved him, we all miss him. It is terrible that we had to lose him so early,” Legend continued.
“We thank his family for being here tonight with us. Thank you for allowing us to use his legacy and lift it up in song tonight.”
Hussle — an Eritrean-American who was born Ermias Asghedom — was shot dead last March, triggering an outpouring of grief in LA and among his superstar peers, who hailed both his musical talents and tireless community organizing.
Raised in LA’s Crenshaw district, Hussle had transformed the block he would hustle on into a retail, job-creating hub for his Marathon Clothing company.
He took his stage name from a play on the name of the comedian Nipsey Russell.
“Higher” opens with Hussle dressed all in blue — the color of the gang he belonged to, the Crips — rapping about his family’s history in the gritty Los Angeles neighborhood he called home as well as his father’s journey to the United States from Eritrea.
Long part of the underground rap circuit, Hussle struggled to find fame but began selling his own mixtapes.
Hip-hop royalty Jay-Z once bought 100 of them — for $100 each.
He was nominated last year for Best Rap Album for “Victory Lap,” his first formal album that finally dropped in February 2018 after six years of teasing, but lost out to Cardi B.
The tribute to Hussle took on heightened meaning as Los Angeles also mourned the loss of another favorite son, NBA icon Kobe Bryant, who died tragically Sunday in a helicopter crash.
The tribute performance for Hussle saw the images of both men projected on stage at the Staples Center, where Bryant led the Lakers team to several championships.
Family members accepted Hussle’s award for “Racks in the Middle,” which featured rappers Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy.
The late star’s grandmother delivered an emotional elegy, thanking the audience for “sharing all the love that I have felt for him all of his life.”