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Spooky Saudi cinema: Kingdom's first horror flick gets release Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Spooky Saudi cinema: Kingdom's first horror flick gets release

Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest consumers of YouTube per capita [YouTube]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2016

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When you think of slashers and paranormal activity, Saudi Arabia may not be the first to come to mind, but some young moviemakers will still give you the chills.
A team of young Saudi Arabian film-makers have released the first part of the kingdom's first ever horror film, racking up 40,000 views in its first 24 hours alone.

The six-minute film, which was shot in Saudi Arabia and features an all-Saudi cast, was uploaded to YouTube last month and will continue to be released in short installments.  

Ghabash [Twilight] follows two friends on a road trip, enjoying the Saudi countryside, when suddenly their outing is cut short by a mysterious creepy child.

"I got the idea to make a Saudi-style horror film because of the severe lack of Arabic horror films and because I visited an abandoned house before I began shooting, which really inspired me," said Asem al-Roumi, the short film's director and co-writer.

"At first, I was scared people wouldn't be receptive to this uncommon movie genre, but thank God, we have received lots of encouraging comments," Roumi said.

The 24-year-old added that he hoped to create more Saudi films that could depict his country's "culture and way of life" and have them screened at international film festivals.
Not for the faint of heart:
The first instalment runs for six minutes


The film received mixed reviews from YouTube users, with many praising it and saying they are looking forward to the second part.

"Wow what a great film, I could really get into the atmosphere. I can't wait for the next part!" said YouTube user Amal.

But user Mohammad al-Otaibi was more critical: "If you had shot at night it would have been much scarier."

With the exception of a single IMAX theatre that screens science documentaries, and a few movie theatres in private company compounds, cinemas are forbidden for the general public in Saudi Arabia - because authorities have deemed them "un-Islamic".

Saudi Arabians watch films via satellite television, the internet and DVDs.

Young people in Saudi Arabia, which is one of the world's largest consumers of YouTube content per capita, have also turned to video-sharing sites to express thier creative sides.

Gabash stars Qoraytam, Mohammad al-Shadoukhy, and Lamar al-Dousry. Badr al-Kothairy co-wrote the film with Roumi, who also took part in shooting the short film.

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