Kothanodi Uses Magical Realism To Deliver Eerie Atmospheric Horror

Originally appeared in Film Companion.

“Horror is like a serpent; always shedding its skin, always changing. And it will always come back. It can’t be hidden away like the guilty secrets we try to keep in our subconscious,” said Italian filmmaker Dario Argento. The quote beautifully articulates the meaning and objective of horror. By drawing an analogy with a serpent, Argento acknowledges that horror continues to evolve in conflux with the supernatural, while the next line elucidates how horror’s influence on one traces back to one’s psyche, thereby inferring what constitutes horror on both a wider and personal level. For those unfamiliar with Argento’s work, the filmmaker’s most renowned work is Suspiria, the first in The Three Mothers trilogy, which also includes the lesser-known Inferno and The Mother of Tears.

While each film in Argento’s The Three Mothers trilogy is dedicated to a witch – an explicit representation of a female indulging in the dark side of mystics – Bhaskar Hazarika‘s Kothanodi (The River of Fables), on the other hand, is an eldritch take on motherhood that tells the stories of four women, and it can and must be proclaimed ‘The Four Mothers’. Produced four years before his sophomore effort Aamis brought him into the limelight, it is the convergence of the supernatural and the real, which seamlessly delves into tenebrous depths of convoluted human nature.

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