Fantasia International Film Festival: Kriya (2020) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

Since the success of Hereditary (2018), there has been an influx of family-themed allegorical horror. Writer and director Sidharth Srinivasan’s film Kriya (2020) tackles some of the same themes. The horror tones and mood is established early, and is done successfully for the most part – but there are elements that don’t quite click. 

Neel (Noble Luke) is a DJ working at a party or club of some kind when he meets Sitara (Navjot Randhawa). After making out for a while in the car, she insists they return to her house. Neel agrees and is surprised to find her family gathered around her dying father. Things only become more uncomfortable as the family interacts with Neel, who is hearing voices and seeing visions as Sitara’s father slowly fades away. 

Luke’s delivery of some of the dialogue, especially later in the film, felt too much like a performance. He seemed earnest, but the way the words would come out felt a little too generic. Sometimes it felt bigger than the moment called for, and other times they just felt flat. His character is going through a lot, so it’s understandable that he would be freaking out – but the performance just never felt like it reflected that. It is possible that it was the writing and the choice of words that were the problem. 

The story is compelling for the majority of the film, and Srinivasan mostly sticks the landing, which is often something horror films struggle with. However, it did drag a few times, and it was difficult to follow the logic of a few of the story pieces. Still, it was suspenseful enough to keep its hooks in the audience more often than not. 

Kriya didn’t quite work for me as a whole, and I did find myself drifting away from it at least a few times. I was surprised by elements of the film’s ending that made me appreciate the storytelling of it as a whole. Overall, I’m a fan of this style of horror, but there is definitely something missing with this one. Kriya earns the Decent Watch rating.

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