Indian Horror Chhorii (2021) Pits Pregnant Woman Against Paranormal Peril
First Non-Festival Release: November 26, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Vishal Furia
Writer: Vishal Furia, Vishal Kapoor
Runtime: 126 Minutes
Starring: Nushrratt Bharuccha, Mita Vashist, Saburabh Goyal
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Sakshi (Nushrratt Bharuccha) is forced to take a 300-kilometer journey to a small village after her husband Hemant (Saburabh Goyal) falls into money trouble with some powerful men in the city. Their driver Kajla (Rajesh Jais) is more than happy to take them to his hometown so they can lay low while Hemant scrambles to get the money to protect him and his pregnant wife. Once they make their way through elaborate corn field mazes to the hidden home, they meet Bhanno Devi (Mita Vashisht), Kajla’s traditional and doting wife. Sakshi is happy to eschew modern conveniences to ensure that she, her husband, and her baby but finds herself drawn into a peculiar mystery that may or may not involve a witch that is terrorizing her at night.
A convincing enough morality tale, Chhorii exposes the horrors of the intersection between modernity and tradition with middling results.
Once the couple takes shelter in their driver’s home, things get murky with how the plot progresses. Everything and everyone is a little bit off and Sakshi knows this. She won’t vocalize it due to her circumstances, as she wants to be supportive of her husband. Once everything is revealed, it’s confusing to think of how these rituals came to be with conflicting sides of the story. The mechanics of how the truth is revealed and how it punishes comes to life in the most melodramatic of ways. What should be powerful turns almost comedic and that’s the vibe that Chhorii unintentionally gives off by not letting characters speak for themselves through actions rather than exposition dumps.
At the end of the day, Chhorii is a movie with a message, and it is unbothered in ensuring the audience leaves knowing that. Once Sakshi learns about the history behind the farm and the cyclical nature everything, she makes it her mission to expose the horrors of the past. Some may find the film’s call to action preachy; it is a worthy cause that deserves your attention. Chhorii comes off more as righteous anger more than outright horror, which isn’t a bad thing. Violence against women in smaller or rural communities will not end until it is acknowledged and pushed back against. That is the message being sent, which shouldn’t be controversial.
Enough care goes into making Chhorii look and feel unsettling. One of the cooler aspects of Chhorii is in its setting, a secluded compound in the middle of a labyrinth of crops. This sets the stage for a multitude of creepy set pieces and chase scenes. It lends into the mythology of the film so well too. We learn more about the nature of the violence and why Sakshi must endure the horrors of the home. The effects are a mixed bag but are serviceable enough. Ghosts are notoriously tricky to get right, and the film goes for a less subtle approach.
While there is little technically wrong with the film, it just doesn’t do much. Its story is common, and the plot progresses in a typical fashion for most supernatural-meets-real-world horror films. The acting is fine with Nushrratt Bharuccha giving it her all while the rest of the cast lays it on a little thick, over the sustained two-hour runtime. Its tactics of inducing fear are well-tread even if they are effective at times. Ultimately, the biggest problem with Chhorii is that it is generic.
Focused primarily on its message, Chhorii can get a little preachy at times, but for good reason. It’s always nice to see a horror film take commentary on the social world while evoking a thrill or two from the audience. A capable cast and eerie setting make Chhorii a unique watch despite a rather typical story. Chhorii’s biggest weakness comes in the form of overindulgence in its storytelling. A tighter edit would give it more kick without sacrificing any of the emotional or visceral points of the film. Another so-so import from India, Chhorii adds to the long list of films that showcase the vulnerability and strength of pregnant women.
Overall Score? 5.5/10