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Roached

Critic:

Patrick Foley

|

Posted on:

1 Jun 2022

Film Reviews
Roached
Directed by:
Kshitij Sharma
Written by:
Deeya Dey, Kshitij Sharma
Starring:
Deeya Dey, Shiv Sharma, Nishta Sharma
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I know we all went a little crazy during lockdown, but Kshitji Sharma’s Roached shows one couple whose descent into madness has a few extra legs…

 

In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anuradha (Deeya Dey) is isolated from her friends by her domineering husband Manav (Rudolfo Rajeev Hubert). With even Zoom chats monitored, she becomes desperate and unhappy, yet trapped like a prisoner in her own home. And the presence of a persistent cockroach trespasser is not helping. As she reaches a breaking point, supernatural her husband begins to exhibit some strange, insect-like tendencies…

 

Experimental and unpredictable, Roached is both a grounded lockdown drama detailing the trauma of abusive relationships, and a psychological body-horror that reaches into supernatural and metaphorical storytelling. Filmed in India and presented in Hindi, the film manages to relate itself to the audience thanks to the gritty and grounded portrayal of a terrorising husband who slowly shrinks his wife’s already isolated world during the pandemic, and her dilemma between limited options. The film’s shift towards horror may move the story into the outlandish, but the characters and their motives remain all too human and empathetic.

 

The film’s presentation is impressive and lively – despite being largely set within the same household for the majority of the runtime. Kshitji Sharma excellently shrinks the home as the film develops – closing Anuradha further into her husband’s orbit and upping the claustrophobia. The initial opening of a four-way zoom call both establishes the setting and Anuradha’s personal circumstances as she is dragged away by Manav. As the plot becomes more and more abstract, the presentation of a pivotal dilemma for Anuradha is handled in a heart-pounding manner. There are a few hiccups with prop design at moments, and Rudolfo Hubert’s insect-imitation feels a little lacking and could have benefitted from better framing, but given the film’s smaller budget, it largely outperforms expectations.

 

Deeya Dey and Rudolfo Hubert thrive in the leading roles and share fantastic chemistry. Hubert is the definition of uncaring sleaze – playing king in his own castle and demanding his wife’s subservience. Dey meanwhile captures the distress and fear of an abused partner perfectly – aware of her trappings but defensive of her husband when challenged, in a devastating and sympathetic performance. The complexity Anuradha is captured well, and leads to a genuinely tense and original conclusion in which she finds herself in a position of power, yet still battling her husband’s influence.

 

The film is incredibly abstract and amplifies this side of itself in its second half to a degree that will catch some viewers out. These developments elevate the film from a well-crafted but now-cliched lockdown film to something truly original. The explanation for these events ends up unsatisfying, before a classic but tired horror twist closes things out. For a film that is so inventive, it is a little bit of a damp ending – though not one that damages the ultimate theme or message of the film.

 

Roached certainly leaves an impression, and its inventive storytelling will be left crawling around in your head long after watching. You’ll be bugging people to check this one out…

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Indie Feature Film, World Cinema