Dabbe 2 (2009)

Rating: B

Dir: Hasan Karacadag
Star: Sefa Zengin, Incinur Dasdemir, Deniz Olgac, Muharrem Dalfidan
a.k.a. D@bbe 2

At a 3.0 rating on the IMDb, this is easily the lowest scored entry. Yet I really liked it, and I think one of the reasons why, is perhaps also why it scores so badly; the United States ratings are notably higher than the Turkish ones. It has to overcome some technical difficulties too. The only print apparently out there has sporadic, poorly translated English subs, and there’s a fifteen-minute chunk where the audio is a looped section from earlier in the movie. That it still reached a B grade is testament to… something, especially since the cast is barely a handful in number, and almost all of the film takes place in a single house.

It begins with Ilhan (Zengin) having computer problems, which suggest his PC is infected by something more malevolent than a virus. He then goes off to pick up daughter Funda (Olgac) and her friends, leaving wife Melis (Dasdemir) alone in the house. She starts to experience increasingly weird sights sand sounds – this is the section where the audio if out of sync, but there’s not much dialogue, and it almost helped the off-kilter atmosphere. By the time Ilhan and Funda return, Melis is near-catatonic on the floor. Things are about to get much, much worse. As in, full-on religious apocalypse; trumpets of doom, demons roaming the streets of Istanbul, thick black smoke with evil intentions, and so on.

This is all depicted on a budget of not very much. The luridly low-tech approach, again, almost enhances the nightmarish feel, along with TV broadcasts that have the fragmented and chaotic quality I suspect they would have, in the event of such an apocalypse taking place. However – and I think this is where I and the IMDb voters part company – any faith-based elements are very much downplayed. There’s a very brief discussion between Ilhan and Funda about people turning to God in times of need, that’s quickly interrupted by another spectral assault. The film just doesn’t have time for theological ruminations. Once things kick off, the tone quickly ramps up to near-hysteria, and continues to rise thereafter. It feels raw, intense and given the circumstances, entirely understandable.

Courtesy of the demonic smoke, it ends up feeling somewhat like a Turkish version of The Evil Dead (top), though Ilhan isn’t exactly Ash, more’s the pity. Eventually, he and everyone else are forced out of their shelter, and it does degenerate into running, yelling and wild swinging around of the camera – while the movie is not found footage, this section is infected with some of its stylistic tropes. However, it regains its footage for an ending which is impressively bleak. Perhaps the point is being implicitly made that salvation can only be found in Allah. Yet there’s not much here to suggest that anyone can be saved; these demonic entities aren’t checking mosque attendance. It’s another element which might trigger local viewers, but whose grimly nihilistic tone appeals greatly to me.