If your taste for cheesy movie horror has been ill-fed by the current vogue for moody found-footage pieces, the 3-D Bollywood entry"Raaz 3" -- forged from equal parts"All About Eve," Orpheus and the blood-sex oeuvre of Hammer and Brian De Palma -- could pick up the slack.
Felicitously erotic Bipasha Basu brings some old-school witchy vengeance to the part of Shanaya, a fading leading lady so unnerved by the rising prominence of a sweetly sexy newcomer (Esha Gupta) that she calls on black magic spirits -- and the help of her director boyfriend (Emraan Hashmi) -- to drive her rival insane.
Under Vikram Bhatt's no-frills direction, the inevitable uh-oh love story between accomplice and victim feels perfunctory -- and Gupta and Hashmi are earnest yet dull. But when their romance exponentially ratchets up Basu's desire to punish in the second half, it does lead to some agreeably high-strung set pieces, like an imagined swarm of insects emerging from bathroom drainpipes, and a frenzied climax that cross-cuts between a morgue and the spirit world.
But it's Basu who nails the gothic flash of it all, hardly needing the patina of 3-D to conjure a slinky throwback to fiendishly carnal temptresses of movies past. Whether meeting a malevolent spirit wearing expensive sunglasses, seductively controlling her prey, or bringing her scheme to an operatically violent close, she gives"Raaz 3" its defiantly retro flamboyance.
MPAA rating: R for some violent content; in Hindi with English subtitles
Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Playing: At selected theaters