Tumbbad (2018)

The forgotten deity called Hastar!
The forgotten deity called Hastar!

This Hindi language period-set horror film was directed by Rahi Anil Barve, with Anand Gandhi serving as the additional creative director and Adesh Prasad co-directing. It starts by telling the legend of the Goddess of Plenty and her favourite offspring Hastar. The reason that nobody has heard of Hastar, it is revealed, is due to the fact he was stricken from history.

The film won awards for Best Film and Best Visual Effects at the Screamfest International Film Festival
The film won awards for Best Film and Best Visual Effects at the Screamfest International Film Festival

Hastar, it turns out, physically exists in our world, trapped in a subterranean ‘womb room’ beneath a derelict mansion. The protagonist figures out a way to get a steady supply of gold from this deity, but there may be consequences…

A place where it always seems to rain...
A place where it always seems to rain…

This is a great-looking, well-told Indian horror tale with lots of cool ideas and visuals…

For instance, there’s a possessed, undead grandmother who has spikes jammed through her face to stop her opening her jaw wide enough to eat anyone – and many years later she is rediscovered with a tree growing out of her rotting-yet-living body!

The undead grandmother doesn’t like spikes jammed through her face!
The undead grandmother doesn’t like spikes jammed through her face!
The still-alive grandmother with a tree growing through her!
The still-alive grandmother with a tree growing through her!

The idea that an organic chamber beneath the mansion’s old well is actually the womb of the mother goddess is an intriguing concept, as is the crown-wearing, red-skinned Hastar, who is eternally hungry for flour!

Hastar is eternally hungry for flour
Hastar always has the munchies

The way Vinayak, the lead character, gets hold of Hastar’s gold is nicely done: he knows that Hastar is continually ravenous, desiring flour, so Vinayak climbs down a long rope and uses dolls made from dough to lure Hastar into the centre of the goddess’s womb. Then, while Hastar is distracted by the dough-doll, Vinayak snatches at Hastar’s loincloth containing the gold, causing coins to spill from it. Vinayak regularly repeats this procedure to maintain a regularly flow of stolen coins to make his fortune. 

The red, pulpy-skinned Hastar on the move...
The red, pulpy-skinned Hastar on the move…

The cinematography is a joy, the mood is well maintained, with the film coming across as a dark cautionary horror tale.

The film is great to look at
The film is great to look at

TUMBBAD is a marvellous reminder to always be on the lookout for horror and fantasy stories from all around the world. When you do, you will increase your chances of discovering terrific treasures like this movie.

A victim trapped within the fleshy wall of the womb-room
A victim trapped within the fleshy wall of the womb-room
Whatever you do, don't feed the deity more than one dough-doll...
Whatever you do, don’t feed the deity more than one dough-doll…
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