‘Dachra’ Review: Tunisia’s First Horror Movie Is Familiar but Frightening

On-screen texts bookending “Dachra” claim this thriller is “inspired by true events,” and that “in North Africa hundreds of children are victims of acts of witchcraft.” Nonetheless, one might be forgiven for assuming this purported first-ever Tunisian foray into horror cinema is drawn less from local crimes or superstitions than from the familiar genre tropes of “The Blair Witch Project,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and umpteen other long-standing fan favorites.Originality may indeed be scarce in writer-director Abdelhamid Bouchnak’s debut narrative feature.

Yet this gory goulash of city slickers, creepy yokels, editorial jolts and cannibalism largely transcends its derivative basic elements, thanks to his astute, richly atmospheric handling.

Dekanalog is releasing the film to U.S.

theaters and virtual cinemas on July 9, nearly three years after its festival premiere — during which time “Dachra” became Tunisia’s biggest homegrown box office hit in a quarter century.

That impact is unlikely to be duplicated elsewhere,

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