COMPANY: Vishesh Films
RUNTIME: 139 minutes
PLOT: When a new hot starlet's sudden popularity threatens to shove her out of the spotlight, a movie star uses black magic in an attempt to derail her career.
REVIEW: The Raaz series out of India has turned into quite the interesting little Bollywood horror franchise. After having enjoyed the first Raaz movie and then absolutely loving Raaz 2: The Mystery Continues, I was beyond excited to check out Raaz 3: The Third Dimension, the third entry in this 'anthology' series. I call it an anthology series because, despite being sequels to one another in-name, they are totally separate, unrelated stories, connected only by the same basic idea of characters being haunted in some fashion, and it being related to some deep, dark secret or mystery connected to those characters that said characters have to unravel. They even include a lot of the same actors, just in different roles. For example, while the second movie included all-new actors from the first movie, this entry includes both the main female lead from the first movie as well as the main male lead from the second movie, together in this entry as a married couple at the center of the supernatural going-ons.
While the second movie was fairly close to the first movie in terms of the story and how everything unfolded, Raaz 3: The Third Dimension takes a big step away from that to deliver us something completely new to the franchise. In the first two movies, the girl at the center of the story was being haunted by an aggressive angry spirit tied to some deep dark secret from her past that she was, in a roundabout way, connected to. She then had to figure out what that connection was and make things right. However, in this outing, there is no haunting, per sey, nor is anything really connected to a deep dark secret from the past. Here, a rich Bollywood power couple, an in-demand director and a famous actress (the above-mentioned two lead actors from the previous movies fill these roles), are instead directly responsible for everything going in as the actress is viciously jealous of a younger up and comer new actress that is beginning to steal the spotlight from her, so she seeks out an ancient ritual that will allow her to commune to, and strike a deal with, a demon from the underworld, so that she can put a curse upon the young girl.
I'm personally all for changing up a formula after a couple movies, it helps keep things fresh, and while I appreciate the attempt to do such here, I don't really care so much for the direction they went in. In the first two movies we were following along with the main haunted character while she unraveled the mystery of what was going on, and we, the viewer, were discovering the twists and turns as she did. However because of the way they play this movie out, we already know the secret from the very beginning and we spend the entire movie watching the main character try to figure out for herself what we already know, and I always dislike it when a story does that because it makes it far less interesting to me. I like being on the same page as the lead and not two steps ahead, watching them flounder around trying to find out what we already know.
With that said though, I did love Bipasha Basu in her villainous role. I think it was an ingenuous move to bring her back into the franchise, only now instead of the innocent and tortured relatable main lead she plays a very dark, very disturbed, villain, and she played the switch in character type masterfully. Even Emraan Hashmi, returning from the second movie, plays his new type of role great, always second guessing his wife's decision to curse this young girl, and straddling that tortured line between staying faithful to his wife or doing the right thing and helping this young girl.
But enough about the characters and their stories (although there is quite a lot that can still be said on the matter; Out of all the movies in this franchise, this is the entry with the most interesting character stories), this is a review about a horror movie after all, so of course what people want to know about most is the horror aspects, and while this entry is indeed the most character-driven piece in the series, there is still plenty of awesome horror elements all throughout it. See, as the young girl becomes more and more cursed, she starts seeing and having more and more horrific supernatural things happen to her, driving her to the very edge of insanity. For instance, she has a paralyzing fear of clowns due to an incident from her childhood so of course there is a scene where she gets terrorized by a creepy-as-hell supernatural clown out to kill her, then there's also killer ghost bugs, demonically-possessed housekeepers, evil curse-controlled spirits, plus the original Demon that started all these events and Bipasha Basu's icky sex scene with this it, just to list a few things. Really, out of all three movies so far this is the one that I feel potentially had some of the strongest and creepiest horror moments in the franchise.
I used the word 'potentially' for a reason. Unfortunately, this entry is also the one that makes the most use out of really bad cheap CGI, especially when that laughably-bad god awful Demon is onscreen (which is a lot towards the end). The extreme low SyFy Channel-level quality of effects really puts a big hamper on some otherwise great intense creepy scenes, ruining the mood time after time, with the exception of a couple good scenes that thankfully never used CGI. That, more than anything, really brought this movie down for me.
Add to that the hilariously-bad supernatural Kung Fu fighting-filled climax and Raaz 3: The Third Dimension is, unfortunately, the weakest entry in the series. Which is a real shame because there really is quite a lot to love about this movie, and it was well on its way to being my favorite, despite my issues with the way the story was being told to us, up until all the bad CGI started appearing and then things ended off on that previously-mentioned weird Demon-Dimension martial arts fighting sequence, and as much as I loved a lot of aspects of this, it just ended off on a sour taste in my mouth.
5/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward