Story: Three buddies – Bhaskar (Nanda Kishore), Chaitanya (Guru Charan) and Durga (Anurag) – go missing in the woods. Six months later a journalist investigating the case finds three memory cards containing the footage documenting the last terrifying details of their inexplicable ordeal.
Movie Review: You could say that this film falls somewhere in between a copy cat and an intelligent adaptation of the 1999 cult horror film, The Blair Witch Project. In the original we have the three young filmmakers who venture into the woods looking for a legendary witch. In this movie we have three best friends who go to a haunted forest guest house to prove a point to a friend and a stranger, Anand – a wannabe filmmaker played by Charan Tej – tags along enroute. The similarities spill over into the style of filmmaking – this film has also been made on a shoe string budget – as well.
However, there’s no denying that Case no 666/2103 is the first ever “found footage” film ever in Telugu cinema. By Telugu cinema standards, this is a breakthrough film in every sense of the word, the 14 year time lapse notwithstanding! For that reason alone we need to raise a toast to the filmmakers for attempting to do something that’s never been done before and they have done a decent job of it (except for the climax ie) as well. The film packs in some genuine spook factor as well.
The film opens without any opening credits to accentuate that illusion of reality. We have a TV reporter who is assigned the job of getting to bottom of the case of a three friends who’ve gone missing from a guest house in Narsapur forests. Simultaneously the characters are introduced establishing their relations with each other, in a series of non-linear flashbacks taking us through how the three friends decide to take a challenge thrown by their rather peculiar neighbor.
Once they reach the guest house the thrills start kicking in. Strange rustling noises, bizarre guffaws, a woman in white sari, strange paraphernalia tied to the trees, hints of chetabadi (black magic) utter darkness and nights shots of the friends lost in the woods shot in torch lights . . . all come together to heighten the fear factor incrementally despite never actually sowing the ghost per se! But then the climax comes as a bit of dampener, sort of chickening back into the stereotypical Tollywood mold.
There is no acting for a change. It is all very mundane and the writing has this endearing ordinariness to it that adds to the experience. The sound design is another highlight of the film. Visually the movie seems like a celebration of low production values and is presented in the form of a home video format deliberately. But what the hell, the end product is still pretty engaging. It is the cinema technique that stands out more than anything else.
Tip-Off: Though there are no visual scares in this movie, if you are the type that loves horror genre then you will love this film, the rest might have to be content with being sacred of what you don’t see.
Cast: Charan Tej, Aditya, Nanda Kishore, Guru Charan, Anurag, Nikitha, Ashwin
Direction: Venkat Siddareddy
Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes