New to Shudder this week is the English-Hindi horror movie, Kriya. Directed by Sidharth Srinivasan, the movie stars Avantika Akerkar, Noble Luke, and M.D. Asif, and follows the story of a nightclub DJ called Neel, who gets caught up in a strange situation when he attempts a one-night stand with the wrong woman.

In the movie, Neel is performing a DJ set at a night club, when he catches sight of a young woman dancing in the crowd. Neel exchanges glances with the woman, who is called Sitara, and soon they both leave the club.

Heading back to Sitara’s home to spend the night together, the pair arrive to discover Sitara’s father is on death’s door. His health has declined while Sitara was out and her family are now performing his last rites.

Neel is asked to stay and help, and although he feels out of place at such an emotional time for the family, he agrees. But soon Neel comes to regret his decision as he begins to experience disturbing visions and the sense that Sitara does not want him to leave.

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Kriya is a small-scale horror movie which works best for those who have already exhausted everything else that Shudder has to offer. In short: There are much better movies available to watch on the streaming service, and I expect audiences will only stick with it if they have nothing else to occupy their time.    

The film focuses around a small group of characters, as well as a very basic premise, and it never really moves beyond this. There are a few interesting moments here and there, and a sense that something good could have been produced from the material, but it’s all very sedate stuff and ultimately not that engaging.

The first ten minutes intrigued me, the next hour-and-twenty minutes lost me. The problem? It lacks flair.

There’s nothing exciting going on in Kriya. There’s no imagination and there’s certainly no innovation.

I get that this is a low budget picture, but that doesn’t mean the director couldn’t have brought something exciting to the screen. Small budgets can make directors think on their feet and come up with some truly great ideas, but that didn’t happen here.

Does it tell a story? Yes. Do the actors perform the job they were paid to do? Also, yes – but I need more than that from a movie. I need creativity.

Image: ©Shudder
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The film is largely set in one location, and again I expect this was down to the budget. Fine, there’s no money here, but this backdrop could have been used to the movie’s advantage to elicit some kind of suspense or tension.

At one point I wondered if low-level lighting was being used to create a sense of claustrophobia, then I realised the lighting wasn’t intentional – this is just a badly lit film. So bad in fact, that I considered turning up the brightness on my TV, to see if that would improve things.

Ultimately, I stopped myself from fiddling with my TV’s settings when I concluded that I really didn’t care. My brain had checked out by this point, and no matter how much knob twiddling I attempted, it simply wouldn’t make much of a difference.  

Image: ©Shudder
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The best compliment I can give this movie, is that for one very, very, very brief moment, a few seconds of the film reminded me of something from The X-Files. But instead of getting me interested in what was being shown on screen, this simply encouraged me to switch over to Disney+ to re-watch The X-Files for the 1,000th time.

Kriya is dull. There’s no other way to put it. Unless you are intrigued by the premise, have a big thing for low budget (badly lit) horror films, or you have nothing else to watch, you are best giving this one a miss.

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