Kayan (2021) Red Sea Film Festival 2021

December 10th, 2021
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Hakeem Jomah | Horror, Saudi Arabia 75’

A young Saudi couple’s past regrets and neuroses play out in this startlingly effective genre piece, a sophomore feature for Hakeem Jomah, who has made a name for himself as the man behind Madayen, Saudi Arabia’s first psychological horror ghost story.

A blood moon, poltergeists and a Dracula like receptionist are some of the sinister experiences the two encounter when they decide to check into a hotel after a boozy night with friends.

Kayan unfolds in modern day Jeddah where Salman and Thuraya are having a tough time relationship wise, and a house move and new baby doesn’t help. The tone darkens on their way home, deciding to spend the night in a rather mysterious old hotel with more that a few ghastly secrets behind its exotic portals.

The weird hotel manager gives them a chilly reception and not surprisingly nobody gets any sleep haunted by hallucinations and strange things that go bump in the night. Thuraya is menaced by a strange little boy – a reminder of an early abortion. She then appears hovering above the bed in a ghoulish transformation – or it is a figment of his Salman’s imagination?. Meanwhile in his dreams he floats between feverish fantasy and reality menaced by a baleful ex-girlfriend and a security guard with kinetic powers. 

Kayan makes effective use of red tints and an eerie electronic soundscape to ramp up the tension in a tightly scripted and stunningly realised psychological horror outing that certainly puts the Saudi Arabian filmmaker firmly on the map horror-wise. MT

RED SEA FILM FESTIVAL 2021

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