Dabbe 6: The Return (2015)

Rating: C-

Dir: Hasan Karacadag
Star: Sema Simsek, Fehmi Karaarslan, Nilay Gök, Volkan Ünal
a.k.a. Dab6e

If ever a film needed to be, literally, half as long, this is it. The final entry (so far) in the D@bbe franchise comes in at a whopping one hundred and fifty-three minutes, making it a trial of endurance for the viewer, and not purely for the usual, horror-related reasons. If you’re going to be half an hour longer than The Exorcist, there had better be a damn good reason for it. Spoiler: there isn’t here. The tone is set from the beginning with an extended, largely unnecessary prologue depicting in detail an occult ritual, designed to bring down the wrath of a djinn on Mukadder Yaman. It works, and daughter Ayla (Gök) is traumatized by witnessing her mother’s death.

She’s taken care of by her sister, Zeren (Simsek), and Zeren’s husband Hakan (Ünal), but it quickly becomes clear to the audience that something is very wrong with Ayla. This doesn’t stop Karacadag from stretching this section out to about eighty minutes, before the family finally seeks help from psychiatrist Celal Aydilek (Karaarslan). For the second half of the film, the focus switches largely to him, as he investigates Ayla’s case, discovering the specific nature of the djinn responsible and digging into the murky family history of the Yaman clan. This culminates in a ritual that’s supposed to repossess Ayla, and transfer the demon into someone who’s basically a djinn disposal unit. Except that might not be the best idea.

I do think this is the best-looking of the franchise, largely avoiding the “shot on video” feel of the first entries, except when it goes all found-footage for extended periods in the second half. You will certainly get a lot of opportunity to admire it, because it feels like every point gets made in about three different ways. Once you’ve experienced one of Ayla’s unsettling hallucinations from the inside, you get the idea, but that doesn’t stop the director from giving you more of them. Then Hakan’s. And Zeren’s. Whole subplots could be hacked out, such as the husband’s infidelity, which serves little purpose, except allowing the djinn to demonstrate it knows things it shouldn’t. Sidenote: Turkish wives seem very tolerant.

Suspect I probably hit the cinematic wall not long after Avdilek showed up, not least because the actor’s performance is often unconvincing. Part of that is scripting, since his actions seem largely in violation of all psychiatrist protocol. I was only rarely convinced that he believed in djinn, a key component of the character. Interest proved hard to sustain in the second half, and this felt like it was trying to imitate the Siccin franchise with its emphasis on black magic, rather then going its own way. Some of the effects are quite convincing, and it also gets raw and bloody at times, perhaps more so than any of the previous entries. It almost feels like two films glued together, and might have been better as Dabbe 6.1 and 6.2.