Sunday, December 12, 2021

Achoura, Horror from Morocco

It is hard to enjoy “La Nuit des Enfants,” Morocco’s annual children’s night festival, when you are a child bride married to a creepy sixty-year-old. The injustice of Bashira’s situation leaves her particularly vulnerable to a demon named Bougatate. Her flashback starts the story, but she certainly won’t be its last victim in Telal Selhami’s Achoura, which releases Tuesday on DVD and VOD.

has been likened to a Moroccan IT, but for a while, the multiple early flashbacks make it difficult to understand why. Years after Bashira’s fateful “Children’s Night,” a group of four friends barely survive an encounter with it, but frankly, Ali’s brother Samir draws a rather unfortunate fate.

That was twenty years ago. Despite a pledge to never forget what happened, Ali and his wife Nadia have largely repressed the incident. However, their estranged friend Stephane still recollects it vividly, as we can see from his morbid paintings and performance art. However, they must start remembering when Bougatate is inadvertently unleashed.

Yes, the kids who barely survived the monster must reunite to defeat it. Despite structural similarities to King’s novel (and a lot of tall grass),
Achoura is stylishly creepy. Selhami has a great eye for visuals and the folkloric elements add further layers of archetypal resonance. However, it really takes about half-hour for him to finally establish how the first six or seven scenes relate to each other.

Regardless, the characters turn out to be considerably more engaging than the VOD horror movie median. Younes Bouab is totally hardboiled as Ali, in a flicks-away-his-cigarette-under-a-streetlamp kind of way. Ivan Gonzalez is both spectacularly neurotic and diva-ish as Stephane, while Omar Lofti is just a piteous wreck as grown Samir.

You kind of have to decide to stick with
Achoura, but it is worth it. It is horror, but it clearly condemns the loss of innocence suffered by children like Bashira. Despite a somewhat uneven flow, Selhami crafts some potent scares and the implications of it all will get under your skin. Recommended for fans of international horror, Achoura releases this Tuesday (12/14) on DVD and VOD.