There are movies that are so good they have the power to reinforce one’s faith that cinema is not dead. There are also far too many that make one question one’s own sanity, and ask why cinema was ever even revered. Naciye, a Turkish horror film that has no reason for existing, falls into the latter.
There is not one bit of originality on display in Naciye, except for maybe the cinematography in very few shots. Other than that, absolutely nothing about this film works. The characters are beyond underdeveloped, the score seems like it was composed for an entirely separate movie, and the editing is so jarring that there is not one bit of narrative cohesion in the entire movie. For a plot that’s so simple – a bickering couple rent a house they think is empty, only to find out that the previous owner is a homicidal maniac who wants to keep everyone else out – Naciye should not be so convoluted.
In fact, one of the main frustrations is that writer/director Lutfu Emre Cicek intentionally tries to make a complicated mess of what ultimately amounts to a half-baked idea. The film starts out in the past without much of an explanation (to draw us in, maybe?) and then repeatedly crosscuts back to that time during moments of tension for literally no reason. There’s no clear transition point, and no narrative reason to do so, except maybe because Cicek has no idea what he’s doing.
The characters are insufferable, including the two leads Bengi (Esin Harvey) and Bertan (Görkem Mertsöz), the aforementioned bickering couple who are awaiting the birth of their child, as well as the title character (played by Derya Alabora) who’s reason for killing is, sadly, not the most unoriginal thing that happens. Adding to the mess of characters are the sloppy fight/killing scenes, which barely hold up as credible, as well as the overall blocking in during moments meant to invoke tension.
I think that categorizing this film as horror is quite apt, given that it feels as close to real torture as I can imagine. I’ve liked a lot of questionable movies in my time, and even enjoyed a few that were either so crazy or stupid that they could qualify as guilty pleasures, but “Naciye” hits none of those marks. It’s bad in bad ways, and truly despicable in others (the ending, which I won’t spoil, is probably the film’s worst offense).
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