It is summer break and best friends Amélie, Bintou and Morjana hang together with the neighborhood teenagers. At night, they have fun sharing goosebumps stories and urban legends. But when Amélie is assaulted by her ex, she remembers the story of Kandisha, a powerful and vengeful demon. Afraid, upset, she summons her. The next day, her ex is found dead. The legend is true and now Kandisha is on a killing spree. The three girls will do anything to break the curse.
Kandisha is written and directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. Kandisha stars Mathilde Lamusse, Suzy Bemba, Samarcande Saadi, and Meriem Sarolie
And just like that, with a few simple lines, a pox of death is let loose upon a French city.
Kandisha is a 2020 film that first premiered at Sitges Film Festival in October of last year. Now it makes its way to Shudder as an exclusive for the horror streaming giant. I was lucky enough to have a chance to see the movie a bit early and it was a spooky, though at times predictable, experience.
This movie focuses on three teens all of who, when you first meet them are designated not by their names. No, no, that information comes second. First we’re introduced to them by their race. Because the writers want you to know that these are edgy no good girls who like to often remind one another what the color of their skin or regional identity is. It’s a trend I’ve seen in a few films focused on younger protagonists and I don’t like it.
You can make a character a social outcast without also making them racist to one another. Of course we see the boys get in on the sexism so all around the introduction for these characters were not ones that made me initially care for them. As the story goes though Amelie, Bintou, and Morjana, do get a lot of character work that by the end made me want to see them come through this ordeal triumphant. The surrounding cast was more mixed in that area.
Essentially though, Morjana explains the legend of Aisha Kandisha, a Moroccan myth that was killed by six men after having her lover stolen from her to Amelie who then after a viscous attack invokes Kandisha for revenge. However, because of her tragedy when you invoke the demon she then demands six men as a sacrifice. There are extra conditions but to give those away would spoil too many things. But as the men surrounding the three girls begin to die off in gruesome ways, they attempt to get rid of the spectre which as you can guess only ends in tragedy.
The deaths of the men never really freaked me out. There were moments in the film I felt were uncomfortable however, one scene involving an animal made me have to pause so I didn’t cry. But not once did I ever feel afraid or terrified. Just spooked. I did enjoy though that as the movie goes we get to see more Kandisha as she crawls out of the shadows. We get to see several gruesome sides of her that was pretty crazy to look upon.
I also enjoyed the practical effects surrounding the design of Kandisha as well. It made everything feel a bit more real. Though there was one scene in particular that starts out wild but as it goes it becomes unintentionally funny. But the effects in this movie were pretty great form Kandisha herself to the bodies left in her wake.
Unfortunately, a lot of this movie is predictable and midway through the film you’ll be able to see the ending coming a mile away. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I felt some emotional resonance lost inside me when at the very end I found myself muttering “I knew it” under my breath. And because the cast is so small it’s almost too easy to know who’s going to die and after awhile you can even guess the order. This is I feel is where the film falls most flat.
But it’s not all negative. I did enjoy the urban environment and this was my first exposure to the creature of Kandisha and I think she’s pretty cool! There were many poetic moments throughout the film and even in the ending you can tell great care was taken to make sure it felt right. The effects were great and throughout the film the relationship between all the girls really worked and they made a strong team together.
There was even a fun nod to Totally Spies which was cool!
If anything I found that Kandisha has a rough start with a fun middle and decent ending. It isn’t bad, just okay, and I think it’ll work as a decent inclusion to Shudder’s roster of movies.
Overall Kandisha Feelings
Though Kandisha leans into story and character tropes that I find disagreeable at times, and I didn’t even get into all of them, once the film ramps up with its main monster it becomes a tour de force and ultimately fun hour and half adventure.