When most people think about the cinema of India, thoughts naturally turn to Bollywood. Whilst the all singing, all dancing Hindi film industry is something of a corporate juggernaut, there’s a thriving independent cinema sector which struggles to make its voice heard. However, over the last couple of years we’re beginning to see Indian directors making inroads into genre cinema. Both Bulbbul and Tumbbad have demonstrated how well period horror can we done. Kriya injects those traditional values into a contemporary setting.

After leaving a nightclub with the beautiful Sitara (Navjot Randhawa), Neel (Noble Luke) thinks his luck’s in. However, nothing could be further from the truth and it doesn’t take long until he comes to rue his decision. Upon arriving at her home, they discover her father shackled on his deathbed, surrounded by a small group. As there are no male heirs, Neel is drawn into a ritual by a priest (Sudhanva Deshpande) in order to lift a curse on the family. This forces him to face up to his own demons.

Kriya is a strange and disquieting horror which delves into traditional Hindu funeral rites and rituals in order to create a scathing critique on modern India. Director Sidharth Srinivasan plays with themes of religious intolerance, chauvinism and traditional conservatism to conjure-up a film which takes aim at a country whose society seems stuck in the distant past. By focusing on custom, superstition and the minutiae of religious lore, Kriya draws the viewer in before unleashing the full magnitude of the terror.

Kriya premieres at Fantasia Festival.