Let’s go to Turkey.
There are a bunch of these Dabbe movies out there, but this one is the oldest available on Netflix, so I gave it a go.
I had never heard of the series, but after being introduced to Turkish horror via Baskin I knew I had to give it a try. While Dabbe: The Possession doesn’t quite attain the heights of Baskin, it does solidify Turkey as an excellent place to look for horror.
We follow Ebru (a psychiatrist) who is documenting an exorcist named Faruk. She thinks he is a fraud, but her friend Kubra is ill, and no medical treatments are working. Ebru seems to think that either Faruk can help or she can once and for all prove exorcism isn’t real. (An odd mixture of motives, but it does work within the film). Once they arrive to Kubra’s village more mysteries emerge as nothing is what it seems.
Let’s start with the bad. The film is found-footage—so I know that a lot of folks are already tuning out. We have the crappy shaky cam during the climactic and startling elements, which sucks because we don’t get a great look at stuff. More annoying is that we also get the obnoxious camera effects when spooky shit is going on. I hate this trope—it breaks the spell of the film. I had been thoroughly sucked in when the damn screen crackled, and I was pulled right out.
We do have some cool effects with the camera, but these are far outweighed by the annoying ones. Through and through this would have been a better movie if they had gone away from found footage.
The most annoying aspect of the found-footage is that we never bother to watch the footage. Some serious supernatural shit is caught on camera, but no one notices. What is the point of filming if you won’t check the tapes? Ebru’s skepticism seems unfounded when she demands evidence but refuses to look at it.
I get that skeptical characters have a place, but at a certain point the disbelief becomes a little insane here. Ebru witnesses incredible feats of strength, strange phenomena, and bizarre coincidences—but doesn’t seem swayed. What is a bummer is they did a good job balancing our two mains until the latter portion of the film before the conclusion.
The film doesn’t have a lot of originality in its basic plot. Woman is possessed, dark secrets from family, escalating incidents, and answers come often too late. However, everything is done well here. The acting, dialogue, and little details propel this above the slew of other found-footage films here. The film uses its settings well (something a lot of films could learn from) and incorporates some interesting ideas. We have a lot of esoteric Muslim spirituality here and it works. For American audiences (at least for me) it was fun to see this incorporating.
The story is interesting, and the lead characters are mostly great. Despite an above 2 hour running time, I was never bored. I think is a great horror film. The only big issues stem from the reliance on found-footage. I have railed against that style for a while, so do believe me when I say that this one is still an excellent little creeper. I will be checking out some more of these Dabbe films—let’s hope the quality stays this high.
Give this one a watch.