Candid marks the arrival of a fresh new talent in director Vishnu Seesahai, who also wrote and starred in the film, as well as did the photography, score, and everything else for it. The film has a great, immersive atmosphere full of uncertainty and palpable tension. The eerie score helps set the mood well, and Vishnu employs some very interesting stylistic tricks for his debut feature. Vishnu himself said it's not a horror film, but a psychological thriller, and a smart one at that, dealing with the whole issue of voyeurism. On top of that, it also deals with such issues as rape, serial killers, bad childhoods, and many other things. It's a very multi-layered film, and one of the great things about it is that it can be passed off as simply a horror film and still deliver the goods in that regard.
The story concerns a socially awkward young man named Jim Thorpe who likes to go around the city filming people (think Peeping Tom, but with a New York twist). He often gets caught, but that doesn't stop him from continuing to do it. What is he looking for? Why is he doing what he's doing? What does he hope to gain from filming people? These are all questions the film poses and answers before it finishes. Jim soon gets more than he bargains for when he comes across a mysterious young woman who's hiding dark secrets of her own, and this leads to the point where the film becomes even more engaging, and from that point on, the audience is led on a wild, suspenseful ride where anything and everything goes wrong. I also shouldn't fail to mention that Jim is often haunted by the last memories of his dead mother, which tie into the whole voyeur theme.
Like I said above, Vishnu did every aspect of this film by himself, basically. This is purely stripped-down guerilla filmmaking to the core. Vishnu was a one-man crew when he made this, and I just find that so inspiring, especially when the finished product turned out as good as it did. The photography is quite stunning in its use of color and lighting, and that combined with the eerie music created an atmosphere that can rival that of most other thrillers combined. It's simply a great looking film, especially for its budget. The writing was also very funny for the most part; lots of memorable and witty lines, and the actors did a great job delivering them. Vishnu himself said that writing is one of his main strengths, and I can definitely see why. Toni Busker also gave a very memorable and vivid performance as serial killer Samantha Birch, so I'd love to see her in more films in the future. Vishnu himself made for an amusing and charismatic lead.
I saw this at the Pan African Festival and it was simply a joy. The director seems like a nice, cool dude, and during the Q&A session, he eloquently explained how he did the film all on his own, as well as what the film means in regards to its social commentary, themes, and such. Vishnu also said that he's already in pre-production for his next film, and if it's anything like this one from a quality standpoint, I know I'll dig the hell out of it.
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