Wide World of Horror: ‘Araf (The Abortion’) – a lot of people walking and not much horror

Araf (The Abortion)download
Written by Hakan Bilir
Directed by Biray Dalkiran
Turkey, 2006

How did he know that happened? How long are they going to overlay them walking with music? These are the two questions that horror buffs will find themselves asking after they’ve finished Araf. Those are not two questions that are asked of a great horror movie, they are questions asked of a mediocre horror film. That should tell you about where Araf falls on the movie spectrum.

Biray Dalkrian is the main problem with Araf. His direction is suffocating to the extreme. This film misuses the close-up shot in a most egregious manner. There are times when the camera zooms in on a person walking and follows them in close-up mode while nothing happens until the film cuts to the next scene. The direction shoves the viewer into the machinations of the film in ways that are forced and simply do not work. Close-ups aren’t always a bad thing, but when they don’t serve any discernible purpose and dominate far too much of a movie they become exhausting.

The length of Araf is also problematic. There’s no reason this film should have been an hour and a half. Remove the various montages of Eda and Cenk walking while music takes over the soundtrack and Araf is probably about forty five minutes to an hour at most. The musical montage sequences are super tiring and seem almost endless. There’s only so much one can take of people walking, and walking, and walking some more in a never ending montage mode.

The horror aspect of Araf never makes much sense. It sets itself up as a horror film about an abortion. But, there are moments of horror that occur before the abortion has taken place. People can see a ghost at certain times, and then at other times they can’t. Essentially the horror of Araf is that of convenient horror. When it is convenient for the screenplay to toss in some horror it does, regardless of if it makes any sense.

The true horror of Araf is found in the thematic content of the film. The central message of Araf is that women are bad and deserve to be punished for simply existing. Men are fine, they can screw and cheat to their hearts content. However, should you have a vagina you can’t really expect anything but a terrible life. Your place is at the side of a man being faithful and doting. Veer from that in any manner and a severe punishment is coming your way. The scary thing is that Araf is a film that believes wholeheartedly in its theme and message.

Less bothersome from a moral standpoint, but more troubling from a filmic view is the moments of realization that occur later in the film. A character remembering events that he wasn’t present for and couldn’t possibly remember is beyond stupid. No movie has never been able to pull off that trope and there’s no reason for it to exist. People can only remember events that they are actually present for, even in the movies this is a truth that can’t be done away with unless you’re introducing a fantasy element like telepathy. When Cenk realizes what’s been going on the entire time there’s nothing to do but shake your head at the stupidity of the filmmaking taking place.

A movie centered on someone having an abortion is prime horror territory. Araf could have been great based solely on its subject matter. That’s not the case as at every turn the filmmaking lets down said subject matter. There’s no deep thematic content in Araf, there’s not much of a movie truth be told. Araf is a misfire from the word go. When it’s finally over and the end credits have rolled, that’s when Araf is finally going to make the viewer happy.

-Bill Thompson

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