HSFF 2022 FILM REVIEW – MOSHARI, a post-apocalyptic film about two sisters seeking to survive in a world overrun by blood-sucking nocturnal creatures

HollyShots Oscar-Qualifying Film Festival’s MOSHARI is a 22 minute long horror short that follows two bengali sisters struggling to survive amidst a post-apocalyptic world overrun with vampire-like creatures. Up and coming talented writer/director Nuhash Humayun ( who has recently been signed by CAA and Anonymous Content)  chose the film’s namesake moshari (or mosquito net) from his native Bengali language. A trailblazer in the industry, Humayun’s short is the first Bangladesh film to premiere internationally at The SXSW 2022 Shorts Film Festival Program, where it won best Midnight Short. Moshari also took home this year’s prize for Best Narrative Short at the Atlanta Film Festival, making it a serious contender for an 2022 Oscar© nomination. This terrifying short has a fresh approach to vampire lore, and reinvents a unique landscape for these mythical blood sucking monsters to dwell.

Director Nuhash Humayun

Set in a dystopian world, MOSHARI begins with two sisters arguing over the decaying corpse of a cow. Arya (played by Nairah Onora Saif) is young and naive, and prays earnestly for the deceased beast while her stern, no-nonsense sister Apu (Sunerah Binte Kamal) hurries her back to the safety of their small south-eastern village as darkness descends. A militant voice over a loudspeaker warns the villagers to seek shelter in their moshari (mosquito nets) and we learn that the Western world has perished while previously looked down on, “third world” countries still survive in the East. Arya and Apu personalities clash several times, with Apu’s concern for her younger sister’s safety taking precedence to the younger girl’s want of affection. Their complex, and layered performances are the catalyst for the film, literally sucking the audience into their nightmarish world. The fragility of their survival depends entirely on the thin net which keeps out anything that wants to “drink their blood”. Arya struggles with feelings of suffocation; identifying several times throughout the short that she feels like she cant breath from being beneath the net, the assertiveness of her older sister, and the terrifying new world they find themselves in. When in the middle of the night Arya finds a small tear in the net, we rapidly descend into a hellish scenario along with the two girls as they fight for their lives against the spine-chilling creature that stalks them. 

Their complex, and layered performances are the catalyst for the film, literally sucking the audience into their nightmarish world.

The director hopes his films can help counter many stereotypes his country faces, “Moshari is a revisionist horror/fantasy that inverts the myth of our part of the world as ‘the third world.” Nuhash Humayun said in an interview with Deadline. He hopes that universal themes such as family, love, and survival will help disband archaic prejudices. Humayun aims to portray Bangladesh free from stereotypes and Western assumptions about their diverse culture.”The first time I heard my home mentioned in a film was a throwaway line about there being ‘enough food on this table to feed Bangladesh. I love infusing genre stories with deeply personal and cultural identity politics. We have powerful, thrilling, visceral stories to tell,” said the director in an interview with Deadline. Already a successful filmmaker at only thirty years of age, he’s well on his way of disbanding such prejudices and proving that South Asian filmmakers are capable of sensational storytelling. 

The stunning visuals of this short film are exemplified in a memorable scene where the sisters lay in a dimly lit bed as dense darkness presses in, the mosquito net acts to both protect and cage them within the confined space. Most of the movie is darker in it’s tonality and themes, the use  of shadows accentuate the creepiness of the creatures that seem to lurk constantly just out of sight. The film’s score intensifies the thrills, using sharp reedy sounds to amplify already tense scenes expertly with hair-raising eerie tones. MOSHARI is a quality horror film that manages to intertwine genuinely terrifying vampires with the heartfelt story of two very different sisters’ desperate struggle for survival. This short has jump scares, creepy creatures, and forceful performances in a fresh visionary way that Hollywood films have not been able to emulate in recent cinema. MOSHARI  proves you don’t need an obscene budget and special effects to construct  a genuinely well crafted horror film. The award winning film is so well made that it could (and should) easily be expanded into a feature length film, or a series similar to other successful horror tropes like THE WALKING DEAD. MOSHARI is so well crafted, and so complete in its world building that it will undoubtedly leave audiences thirsting for more. Don’t let the subtitles scare you away from this must see thriller that is, at its core, a story about family and how love can bring light into even the darkest of circumstances. 

This short has jump scares, creepy creatures, and forceful performances in a fresh visionary way that Hollywood films have not been able to emulate in recent cinema

The annual Academy Awards® Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival will celebrate its 18th year in August 2022. HollyShorts (HSFF) brings together top creators, industry leaders, and companies and has launched many filmmakers into the next stages of their careers. HollyShorts, regular on MovieMaker Magazine’s “Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee list”, also engages its community and spotlights short films year-round through monthly screenings, panels, and networking events. HollyShorts Film Festival will take place in-person between August 11-20th, 2021 at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, with the annual Awards Gala set to take place on August 20th, 2022. 

MOSHARI is playing on the opening night at HollyShorts, you can buy tickets here

Keya Rivera, Film Business Magazine

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