Written and directed by Can Sagir, co-written by Erdeniz Tunç, a young journalism student meets with a local man to learn about a popular myth among the native villages of a mysterious creature named Obur. Starring: Samet Kiziltas and Berna Toy.
Local mythology is a beloved road to travel among sci-fi and horror films, brining outsiders into close communities with eager eyes, having no idea what they’re getting into. Added to picking a rundown or abandoned location, and a character hungry for a story, success and fame, it’s a familiar recipe. There’s something old yet new about the visual style, in the more literal sense it feels like its throwing back to found footage but with its direction it plays into a more modern, close-up style. The choice to use narration is another classic element, having a character play back their fearful experience for the audience. It works but can also be quite heavy at times.
One of the aspects which makes that narration more heavy and slows down the film is its editing. Choosing to spend a big chunk of time in the initial scenes, simply focused on a diary type recollection, prevents the story from really getting going and pushing forward. It would have been great to see that mixed more frequently with scenes of their exploration for the creature. It also lessens the state of fear it’s trying to build up, there is a dose of tension there but the slow movement and home setting of its opening don’t highlight the danger strongly. Meaning that its horror vein is hinged more upon one very brief moment, which isn’t quite enough to bring everything together. The elements are there but the ratio of time spent on them is unbalanced.
Overall, it has the feel of a haunted folk tale, but the story and progression is quite simple, it doesn’t draw out the search more satisfyingly. There also isn’t much development to the characters, or a larger hint to their backgrounds. Particularly with the young man (Samet Kiziltas) hoping to spread the story of the danger that they face. It misses out on more focus on the characters, giving more attention to building the atmosphere, but it then loses out on drawing from their emotion. Although Berna Toy does have a heightened state of emotion which adds to the film’s tension.
Ancient Voice feels like a homage to classic themes of horror, a monster known only to the locals, sought out by an outsider. You can clearly see what the filmmakers were going for but the story and its characters needed a touch more development to pull you in further. The intention and budding atmosphere is there, it simply missed out on tantalising its audience more, pushing its sense of fear and danger deeper to keep you in suspense.