The Telugu film industry is slowly but surely making way for a new genre of cinema. Small of budget and brave of spirit, in the recent times, this genre has given us diamonds of the first water, like Midhunam
and Routine Love Story
. If horror stories (not intentionally, believe you us) like Bus Stop
also get through, well, experimentation is all about trials and errors.
Case No. 666 is a rather uncomfortable kind of mediocre. The mediocrity comes not from the insipidity of content, but from the way the idea of found footage is dealt with. The squirm factor of found footage always lies in the mystery, a lot of which is built off-screen, in the sounds you hear, in whatever gets your imagination going, in everything you can't see
Take, for instance, The Blair Witch Project, of which this movie is a near-direct rip off, missing friends and bloody hand prints included. After you're already scared shitless, the credits roll to a pitch black screen and screams. When you go to bed, that's
what keeps you from turning the lights out all the way. It's the same with the gimmicky-but-spooky Paranormal Acivity
As we mentioned above, Case 666 is a near direct rip-off of The Blair Witch Project. Only, this one is seedier (yes, that is possible when you have protagonists who go into a deserted forest lodge to make blue films). The first half is obviously relegated to what can only laughably be called "character development".
The story of three men who went missing mysteriously in the jungles of Narasapur - camera-crazy Durga, chilled-out and slightly sleazy Chaitanya, and Bhaskar, who is just there - is revealed via broken footage and outrageous contrivances to get the camera where the director wants it.
Meanwhile, another story is shown of an "investigative" reporter "investigating" their case, Case No. 666, six months after they disappear, the point of which is obviously to tell us how the footage was found.
Anyway, Durga, Chaitanya and Bhaskar, egged on by a ridiculously-accented Eshwar, go to a "haunted" lodge in the Narasapur forest, picking up a stranger en route
. Their aim: make what they call BFs ("blue films" for the understandably clueless) with the village belles of Narasapur.
After a hour that seems like an eternity of absolutely nothing but bad misogynistic jokes, Bhaskar goes missing, and you're thinking - finally! Post the interval is when the film picks up, mostly due to the camera work. The acting is uniformly execrable, until just before a climax that renders the whole film pointless.
The sound could have been used much more cleverly. The visuals - if the aim of the makers was to make them look amateurish - succeeded.
The only reason to watch this one would be some 20 minutes right before the climax. This is where the thrills and the chills lie, mostly due to the clever use of absolute darkness to build fear. And that can be seen as easily within the four walls of your home as at the movie hall, if not better.