Directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury.
Starring Mathilde Lamusse, Suzy Bemba, Samarcande Saadi.
Horror, France, 84 minutes.

Streaming on Shudder from 22 July.


Set in a French high-rise development KANDISHA tells the tale of teenage friends Amelie, Bintou and Morjana and the terror they unwittingly unleash on their friends after Amelie summons a demonic figure from Moroccan folklore in revenge for an assault upon her by her ex-boyfriend. From here the friends scramble to deal with the unforgiving supernatural presence and her grisly killing spree that threatens to destroy everyone that the three girls hold dear to themselves.


From directing duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, who made a memorable first impression with their debut A L’INTERIEUR, KANDISHA often comes across as a French riff on CANDYMAN, even acknowledging its influence close to the beginning when the legend of the demonic Kandisha is first discussed. From this point on however KANDISHA tries to justify its own existence with its exploration of a multi-ethnic society and how it deals with one particular strain of a foreign folklore. Taking aspects from a particular nation’s hidden past and transplanting them into a present-day urban setting usually makes for interesting storytelling, UNDER THE SHADOW being a recent, successful example. Despite its interesting set-up KANDISHA struggles with a flimsy plot that soon becomes repetitive and leads to an underwhelming finale.


Despite a couple of instances of impressively sadistic gore there is none of the intensity that the directors made their reputation with in A L’INTERIEUR or the otherworldly atmosphere of their little seen follow-up LIVID. KANDISHA is a very flat film in terms of style, storytelling and atmosphere. The title character in her supernatural glory eventually becomes an impressively creepy spectre but with her scant backstory and over familiar approach to terrorising her victims there is little here that makes an impression.


The acting here, particularly from its three lead characters, makes the biggest and best impression. Each hailing from a different cultural background they are easily the most impressive aspect of the film. Delivering well rounded portraits the three actresses carry the film with their believable performances that are reminiscent of the realistic social dramas like GIRLHOOD and the recent British feature ROCKS. The early stages of the film are easily the most impressive with their naturalistic nature reinforced by the performances. By the time the supernatural elements come into play they feel half baked to what has come before.


In what could have been an exciting back to basics approach for Bustillo and Maury, particularly after the misfire of their TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE prequel LEATHERFACE, this feels like a missed opportunity. Too familiar to make any impression and lacking any of their previous style and no holds barred approach in intensity, KANDISHA may make for an evening’s passable entertainment if you have already seen everything else that is currently on offer on Shudder’s current roster. Other viewers may find themselves disappointed on what is on offer here, which despite its directors’ reputations is not very much at all.


Iain MacLeod.


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