Wednesday, June 7, 2023

In short: Siccin 2 (2015)

aka Sijjin 2

Hicran’s (Seyda Terzioglu) happy family life with her husband Adnan (Bulut Akkale) and their little son turns into pure horror when the child is squashed by a cupboard that could not and should not have fallen.

Because grief isn’t bad enough, Adnan turns into an abusive monster who very loudly puts the fault for the kid’s death squarely on Hicran’s shoulders. Then there are the visions of nasty and angry looking women, the nightmares – waking and sleeping – and various occurrences you could only explain with some supernatural force wanting our heroine ill.

A visit to a hodja (think a mix of priest, theological scholar and exorcist for the practical purposes of the film) suggests that Hircan is cursed by a particularly terrible curse only a female relative can lay on the victim, so she begins looking into her own family history. The things she’ll eventually learn are pretty horrible, even by horror movie family secret standards.

This second in Alper Mestçi’s only thematically connected series of Turkish witchcraft/possession horror movies often runs sideways to the sensibilities of comparable movies from the US or the UK, mixing the culturally conservative and the exploitative in ways I’m by now starting to see as very specific to Turkish cinema of the 2010s. There’s always more than a whiff of paternalism and misogyny around, but this is countered by how ineffective and often absent the film’s paternalistic protector figure tends to be. The hodja just loves to give advice but never does anything practical on camera, and is absolutely useless as help against the supernatural. In this context it is also interesting to observe how much of this plays like a classic melodrama, a traditionally female-centric genre, just a melodrama where the usual reasons for turned to eleven dramatics – and boy do the film and Terzioglu love those - have been replaced by curses, witches, and so on. Which does situate Siccin 2 nicely in that very traditional exploitation cinema position where a film perpetuates but also potentially subverts conservative cultural ideas at the same time.

On the more generically horror side of the equation, Mestçi loves to edit in quick, short, shocking moments of creepy, distorted looking faces and practical gore effects in ways that not always make it clear if this is happening inside of the characters’ minds, in the reality of the film, or only for the audience. This, particularly when combined with its high tension melodrama, and the film’s general eye for creepy shots of bleak countryside and city streets, gives Siccin 2 a rather nightmarish mood, or perhaps the feeling of reality getting out of whack through the influence of the malignant forces the curse has conjured up.

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