(Estimated Reading Time: ~ 20 minutes)
(Movie Review: Zibahkhana – Hell’s Ground)
(Possibly the worst movie made/shot in Pakistan)
With movies like Josh, Zinda Bhaag and Chambaili giving hope to some about the ‘revival’ of Pakistani cinema, I felt the need to watch some of the indie movies made in Pakistan, in the past. So my first attempt was to watch a movie that was on my list for a long time but I didn’t have the courage (read stomach) to watch it. It was Zibahkhana.
Zibahkhana is a zombie / gore / horror movie made/shot in Pakistan. Directed by Omar Ali Khan and produced by Pete Tombs.
This movie surprised me with the amount of limelight it got in the media. It was mentioned in Time Magazine, The Telegraph and Variety. I was also surprised to see that it got 100% (7.2 out of 10) from rotten tomatoes. Even more than ImDB (5.5 out of 10). So I made plenty of calls to obtain a DVD with bonus features if possible. I was sucessful and started watching the movie. By the end I was immensely disappointed. It looked more like a film for assignment submission for a course whose teacher marked everyone as a winner.
So because of this disappointment, this movie gets a very special review, spoilers and all.
I give it 1 out of 10. It gets 1 for the concept of Burqaman. It loses all the other points because of low production quality, flaws in the script, substandard acting and a director with no eye for details. The best scene in the movie is that of a stream filled with trash and filth. At least the stream made an impact.
Here’s the detailed review:
From the start you have to stomach a lot before you get into the mood of watching this movie. It is sub standard from the get-go. From the poster (which was probably updated 3 times over the years) with crappy fonts (to scare us, I think) to the introductory scene that adds no horror value to the movie. i.e. A car gets into an accident because it hit something, we don’t know what. The actor sits up immediately, no shock, no trauma, and lights a cigarette. Great. There is a full shot of the actor and we see him getting scared of what appears to be thin air. Poor acting at that.
There is the usual jumping through hoops, where a group goes on a journey and
takes a shortcut. Then there are no signals on the cellphone and they realize the gas gauge is messed up. Then the engine doesn’t start, and then the car gets stuck in mud (twice), there was mud but no source (rain/stream) shown.
Actor asks whether the map has gas stations, as if it was Google maps — in 2008 — in print form — in Pakistan.
Here are some more examples:
(Rest in peace English)
“It was fucking with the shit out of me.”
(Make up your mind)
“I was attacked by something down there!”
“It wasn’t an animal, it was a man!”
(Drawing room discussions)
Actors (standing) : “Do you have any idea what was going on back then? What is your opinion on this?”
Some form of realism is important for us to help us connect with the movie. So that we get lost in the movie and are on the edge of our seats when the action quickens its pace.
The actor in the movie is shown to be more concerned about the animal that attacked,
than the person attacked and possibly bleeding to death.
Here’s another scene:
(One actor gets bitten by a zombie and friends try to help)
“We have to take him to a hospital, the blood is not stopping”
(No bandages are applied. Result should be death by blood loss. But No!)
(2 minutes later in the van)
Actor (who was bitten): “I’m okay now that I have my dope”
(Moral: Dope heals fatal wounds.)
– While there is one friend in the group, who is dying in the van, two of the other friends
start politely discussing philosophy as if they don’t even care what happens to him.
– A stranger tells them he will guide them and gets into their van.
Then the same stranger screams: “I will take blood out of you all!”
Result: No reaction. They don’t stop the car or kick him out.
– A decapitated human head lies in the van. Three of their friends are missing.
And then out of nowhere a romance blossoms between the poor Christian boy and the upper-class religious Muslim girl. Huh?
The film shows a group that comprises of people of different beliefs and
backgrounds but is inconsistent with the parts played by the actors.
For example, the educated, upper-class girl is okay medicating herself when an
old lady, who she just met, seconds ago, in the middle of the jungle, says:
“Let me give you some medicine. Here. Drink it. There you go.”
The music and sound of the car engine is turned on and off abruptly. There is no consistency. The dubbing was crappy overall. In one scene the mouth of the actor moves and words don’t come out.
The scenes in the night should depict the moonlight but all we see is a stage light
(very close by and at a height of 12 feet) masquerading as the moon.
We’re not idiots. We can easily differentiate both.
There is no consideration for day time and night time while shooting.
In one scene it’s noon, then it’s sunset, and then noon and then sunset.
Tube-lights were installed in the van as if it were an ambulance. More importantly, lights in the van are on while they are escaping at night, lights are off in the van when they stop to check the front of the car.
There is inconsistent lighting throughout the movie. They try to show a moonlit night.
Sometimes too dark, sometimes we get the feeling of a street lamp in the middle of the jungle.
Near the end, when we have established that there is enough moon light for people to walk about but then in a certain twist the girl suddenly can’t see anything, in that light. There is light all around the van, the girl does not notice the burkha-slasher, in front of the van, until she turns the headlights on. Totally believable.
It was as if someone convinced their cousins to work with them on the project. Even striking/beating the car in anger is unconvincing.
This is important because the movie is a zombie-slasher movie. Human parts will be eaten. Humans intestines look like chicken intestines.
Make up isn’t consistent with the disease plot they were pursuing. Some have boils and white scales, some are normal with a zombie look in the eyes.
This movie could get the razzie for the worst and unconvincing ‘horror props’ e.g. the scary stuff hanging from trees include a dead crow, a brand new doll not a rag doll and a foot of a chicken.
They come to a mausoleum burning 50 or so candles (in the middle of nowhere). How the
hell do you procure candles in the jungle? It appears there is a shop in the middle of the jungle that gives out free candles and people burn them generously. When one candle will suffice for lighting they still burn seven candles in more than one scene.
Example of disregard for detail:
The burkha-slasher uses a flail to smash the head of one of the ‘teenagers’. His head doesn’t even shake/move when the death blow is served. And his eyes (appear to) roll back into their sockets.
After she strikes the slasher, she checks, to see if he is dead, in a very interesting way.
Usually in movies we kick to see something (which was out to kill us) is alive or not.
But here, the girl drops to her knees and puts her head near the chest of the slasher
(as if he was her loved one) and listens to the heart beat.
This movie should be shown in film institutes for a different reason.
“How movies should never be made.”
Here’s a simple test for you, to see how cliched this movie is:
Take a guess how this movie ended.
That’s right. Everyone dies.
I’m glad I watched this movie. Now I have an answer to the following question:
“Which movie, in your opinion, is possibly the worst movie ever made/shot in Pakistan?”