Film Review: Dachra

Yasmine, Walid and Bilel

Africa is a continent which has been raped, pillaged and ravaged by colonialism. The arguments for empire usually point to the benefits it brings for those under its yoke. The Romans, for instance, introduced a number of innovations which made England undoubtedly better. However, the main export from Europe seems to be the imposition of religion. Whilst the Mahgreb countries may have adapted better following independence than most, the difference between urban and rural is often stark. This is the case in Dachra.

After being set a documentary video assignment, Yassmine (Yassmine Dimassi) and Walid (Aziz Jebali) are at a loss. That is until their friend Bilel (Bilel Slatnia) tells them about Mongia (Hela Ayed), a woman in a mental asylum who is allegedly a witch. Intrigued by her story they head off to find an isolated village where she claims to have been assaulted twenty years ago. They discover a strange community predominately made up of women.

Dachra is an atmospheric and creepy tale which delves deep into folklore and superstition to deliver a bloody and brutal horror. Director Abdelhamid Bouchnak’s film mixes traditions with Western genre tropes to produce a barbarous and ferocious social commentary about modern day Tunisia. This conflict between old and new results in a chilling culture clash. Whilst it doesn’t always work and the ending is a bit too convenient, Dachra is a disturbing descent into the dark heart of Africa.

Dachra is out in US cinemas from 9 July.

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