Between the glory of Dawn of the Dead and the glee of Chopping Mall, the cuteness of Bio-Zombie and the "oh yeah, that's set in a mall too" Elves, shopping malls are simply prime real estate for horror. It looks like India has finally received that memo.
Quick Plot: Amity Mall is about to become the largest indoor shopping center in all of Asia, providing people working on its construction stop, you know, dying mysteriously.
After the latest security guard casualty, an ex-soldier named Vishnu is called in to oversee the finishing touches before the mall's big opening. The wealthy business men in charge bring their grown children along for the star-studded party and token five minute musical number break.
This is an Indian film, after all.
As most of the guests begin to exit, the handful lingering behind--both for work reasons and sneak-into-closed-stores-and-figure-skating-rinks-for-fun ones--are hunted down by a some very angry, very violent ghosts. Little by little, the stragglers piece together that the men who purchased this property did not do so with the upmost moral code of conduct.
Darr @ the Mall was apparently made originally for television, which explains why it goes on...and on....and on. Two hours of running length isn't normally unreasonable, but boy does it feel unnecessarily epic in the context of a rather simple haunted mall story.
Pacing aside, Pawan Kripalani's Darr @ the Mall has its charm. While the characters aren't really fleshed out in the most interesting ways, the main actors more than make up for it with good, earnest performances. The effects are B-level CGI, but some of the scares pop and the setups--including an aforementioned FIGURE SKATING DEATH--are done with more care than you might find on average. There's even a rather brilliantly done falling-down-the-stairs shot that might be the first time I've ever genuinely felt the horror of that kind of situation (for those wondering, I tend to fall UP the stairs far more often).
This is a decent, well-made horror movie. I just wish there wasn't so much of it.
Did I mention there was a figure skating death?
Did I mention this is a two-hour ghost story that probably needed about 75 minutes to tell its story effectively?
One reason for not being happy all the time is that you're just not drinking all the time
It's not an accident just because you say so
Saris are made from extremely flammable material
It's hard to fully endorse Darr @ the Mall because its running time feels unreasonable. That being said, it's always interesting to see horror from around the world, and this is certainly a quality production. Perhaps it's worth a watch in bits, as it was originally designed to run. Or maybe I just don't have it in me to NOT recommend a horror film that involves a DEATH WHILE FIGURE SKATING.
Instant bonus point awarded.