Thursday, May 28, 2020

Review: Betaal Season 1

Release date: May 24, 2019
Running time: 45 minutes (4 episodes)
Starring: Viineet Kumar, Aahana Kumra, Suchitra Pillai

Betaal is a new collaboration with Blumhouse Television for Netflix.  It is a four episode series that follows a team of soldiers that stumble upon an ancient evil.  In a remote village, an undead East India Company officer and his battalion of zombie redcoats awaken and attack this squad of soldiers.  They must cooperate with the local villagers and learn what is going on if they have any hope to survive.  

I was pleasantly surprised to see a Hindi collaboration with Blumhouse, and Betaal has a lot of what you have come to expect from that studio.  I have a soft spot for Bollywood film and so this collaboration definitely put a smile on my face.  The horror elements are well done, with a good amount of make up on the zombies and wounds.  The make up is a highlight, with realistic otherworldly wounds and blood being used to great effect.  The series is often dark, which helps to keep the suspense high.  And suspense is what this series has in spades.  Much of the first few episodes have a similar feel to Alien, where the soldiers are trying to decide what is going on while being hunted by elusive zombies.  This suspense is palatable at times and it is great to see a high quality horror series in a bingeable format.  The characters are mostly well done, and the main character is particularly enjoyable.  He is not your typical Bollywood star who is larger than life; he is simply a good soldier with an open mind who is trying to do what is right.  And the main villagers are likewise well played, with a certain amount of superior knowledge that makes them interesting and scary at the same time.

However, despite the series having great makeup, the CG is less than stellar at times.  There are some noticeable CG moments during the gunfights that are acceptable, but do distract from the suspension of disbelief.  Additionally, the sound is generally very good, with creature sounds, suspenseful noises, and suspenseful music being used to great effect.  However, the gunfire sounds are muffled and don't have the same high level that I would expect from this series.  For some reason, the gunfire is just disappointing, with noticeable CG and less than stellar volume, a real let down in a series about a zombie conflict.  And the creatures, though generally well done, do have silly-looking CG in their eyes.  Finally, although there are some scenes that try to pile on the emotion by going in slow motion, this can have mixed effects as sometimes it just caused me to impatiently wait for the next bit of action to occur.  The story starts off slowly, which I appreciated, and ramps up in the last two episodes.  And the conclusion is a satisfying one.

Betaal is a Hindi zombie series with the production values you expect from Blumhouse, featuring good horror effects, a palatable sense of suspense, and a fantastic cast!

Watch it.

No comments:

Post a Comment