Fantasia Review: Not enough goosebumps in Ludo

The 2015 edition of Camera Lucida, a Fantasia program dedicated to new directions in genre cinema, kicked off on Saturday with the world premiere of Ludo, an Indian supernatural horror flick.

Ludo follows two young couples looking for a good time (i.e. a place to fuck) in Mumbai. The quartet gets drunker as the night progresses, and though the search doesn’t prove easy, they eventually decide to satisfy their thirst by breaking into a shopping mall after closing hours. Their fun is cut short with the abrupt presence of
a pair of supernatural creatures dressed like silver-haired hippies who impose a high stakes game of Ludo on them. Will they get fatally fucked or live on to fuck carnally? The only way to know is to roll the dice…

The screening was hosted by Q and Nikon, the film’s directors. “Did you have food?” Q asked the crowd before the movie began, “It’s maybe not a good idea.” Oops.

The first half of the movie focused on following the horny youth as they ambled around Mumbai in search of a place to enjoy bodily pleasures. It was without any blood, violence or unpleasantness—the food I just ate was making its way through my digestive tract without any problems.

The first half was light, slightly comic, and—save for two scenes foreshadowing supernatural elements to come—lacked the unpleasantness I anticipated from the director’s opening remark. The mood ultimately turns once the couples discover
they aren’t alone in the mall. At first, their encounter with two supernatural beings is odd, but non-threatening. This assumption shifts once they join the beings for a life-or-death game of Ludo.

When the beings win, they feast on one of the players in graphic, gory fashion. After the two boys are killed, eaten, and only the girls are left to play the game, the movie takes an expository turn to explain how the beings first came in contact with the supernatural and how it had affected them.

At this point, I again felt disappointed because the unpleasantness and the violence I expected took a drop. The beings’ backstory was admittedly necessary and informative, but it was unnecessarily fleshed out, and lost my interest. A couple of scenes depicting the beings’ hunger struggles after turning into cannibals sufficed to get the point across—I didn’t need 20+ minutes of them starving about, dry-mouthed until the next kill, to understand their plight.

If you’re interested in alternative Indian cinema (i.e. something other than Bollywood), Ludo is worth a watch. The first half uses humour to touch upon teenage rebellion, struggles with traditional family values, and police corruption in India. If you’re looking for goosebumps and a generous helping of disgust, though, Ludo falls short.

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