Thursday, May 23, 2024

“IN FLAMES”

THE STORY – After the death of the family patriarch, a mother and daughter’s precarious existence is ripped apart. They must find strength in each other to survive the malevolent forces that threaten to engulf them.

THE CAST – Ramesha Nawal, Bakhtawar Mazhar Omar & Javaid

THE TEAM – Zarrar Kahn (Director/Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 98 Minutes


The exploration of trauma can take on many forms. At its core, this analysis will always be a method to unearth a deep emotional center buried underneath an agonizing pain desperately searching for a powerful catharsis to be unleashed. One can take many different avenues to delve into this arena. It is often a common occurrence that the aura of horror can serve as a suitable backdrop for this objective, being able to convey its psychological metaphors in an engaging manner that taps into more universal fears. Describing “In Flames” as an addition to such a genre may not be entirely accurate, but the film undoubtedly uses tropes to get its message across. Unfortunately, they are only so effective against a laborious exercise.

Set in Pakistan, the film focuses on Miriam (Ramesha Nawal), a young girl whose family is grieving over the recent death of her grandfather. The situation has already called out nefarious forces, with her great-uncle pressuring her mother, Fariah (Bakhtawhar Mazhar), into giving him ownership of their apartment with no more adult males in the household. As a means of escape from her hectic home life and rigorous studies, Miriam finds comfort in a blossoming relationship with Asad (Omar Javaid). The two make an endearing connection, that is, until a violent turn of events interrupts their courtship and sends Miriam spiraling into a chaotic state of mind. She becomes haunted by nightmarish images and hallucinations that blur the line between fantasy and reality. As her mental state deteriorates, so does the tether to her surroundings. It is up to both Miriam and Fariah to work through these circumstances and find the strength to persevere.

Writer-director Zarrar Kahn tries to calibrate a delicate balance throughout the film. The tone is, at first, slightly uneasy but grounded, set in a world where tension spreads to personal corners but is anchored in a realistic space. This examination is hindered by the blunt and direct writing, but the character study being crafted has some endearing moments. The courtship between Mariam and Asad is not the most innovative of illustrations, but there is a charm to their interplay that keeps one invested. However, as the narrative progresses and the perspective becomes susceptible to altered states, Kahn struggles to manage a consistent sense of engagement. The horror imagery is effectively creepy and unsettling, but it feels in service of a journey that is aimless and muddled. The writing can come across as too blunt, which is at odds with a story that delves into other-worldly psychological manifestations. Despite the handsome craft to elicit such emotions, the results are flaccid and leave little emotional impact.

Nawal’s central role here is meant to guide viewers through this frightening state of being, and she conveys that dire angst quite well. Her characterization is a wonderful analysis of a tortured soul desperately trying to resolve the guilt affecting her every waking moment, and she provides a captivating portrayal. The same can be said for Mazhar, who might be the film’s true standout. She carries the weight of the world as the matriarch who’s fully aware of the dangerous entities surrounding her family. Her battle is in the real world, and seeing her reconcile with the overwhelming anxiety of her situation adds some devastating moments to her performance. The two actors are a forceful pair, even when the storyline is not as compelling as their onscreen work. Javaid doesn’t make much of an impression but is occasionally called upon to present a menacing aura that is effective. That might be more thanks to the filmmaking craft, but he still does a decent job.

There’s much to appreciate and commend on a craft level. The visuals and tone on display are well-deployed, and the direction emphasizes an uncomfortable realm in somewhat fascinating ways. Yet, despite those aspects and a pair of engrossing performances, the film struggles to find resonant meaning in its depictions. The ultimate goal is muted, not really succeeding as an intimate rending of grief nor as a frightful portrait of distressful horror. That is what ultimately makes this piece an underwhelming commentary despite instances of the potential for something greater.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - There is an aura of creepiness and unease in the tone that is well-realized through the filmmaking. The performances from the two leads are captivating.

THE BAD - The storytelling struggles to find a purpose within the character study that has a real impact, making the narrative feel aimless and lightweight. The writing is often too blunt, and the supporting players are not as intriguing.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 5/10

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

Josh Parham
Josh Parhamhttps://nextbestpicture.com
I love movies so much I evidently hate them. Wants to run a production company.

Related Articles

Stay Connected

98,860FollowersFollow
98,860FollowersFollow
7,305FansLike
7,305FansLike
4,490FollowersFollow
4,490FollowersFollow

Latest Reviews

<b>THE GOOD - </b>There is an aura of creepiness and unease in the tone that is well-realized through the filmmaking. The performances from the two leads are captivating.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>The storytelling struggles to find a purpose within the character study that has a real impact, making the narrative feel aimless and lightweight. The writing is often too blunt, and the supporting players are not as intriguing.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>5/10<br><br>"IN FLAMES"