NAGA – TIFF 2023

TIFF 2023 Review NAGA
An extremely well-crafted desert thriller, which takes advantage of extremely low lighting and one very scary camel.

NAGA – TIFF 2023

Runtime: 01:51
Stranded amid Riyadh’s desert dunes, Sarah, a local Saudi girl, escapes heartaches and the vengeance of a vigorous camel after discreetly sneaking out of her parent’s home for a romantic date that landed her astray.

A young woman stranded in the desert has to make it out in time to be picked up by her strict father in . Sarah () is a young Saudi woman dropped off at the market in Riyadh, who is given strict instructions by her father () to be ready for pickup at 9:59 PM. However, the trip to the market is a ruse and Sarah instead goes off with her boyfriend Saad () to an exclusive party at a camp in the middle of the desert. However, things go awry and Sarah finds herself stranded with very little time to make it back to the city.

NAGA Synopsis

NAGA is a Saudi Arabian thriller and the feature film debut from writer and director Meshal Al Jaser. The film kicks off with a violent 1970 prologue, which shows what may happen if Sarah's father finds out she disobeyed him. The film counts down from its 1 p.m. start to Sarah's 10 p.m. curfew. At one point Sarah blacks out from drugs she has taken, resulting in her waking up in a trunk of the car in the middle of the desert. After a very suspenseful moment involving a rabid camel, the chronology rewinds to show exactly how Sarah ended up in this predicament.

My Thoughts on NAGA

While more a race-against-the-clock thriller than a horror film, NAGA is a film featuring one of the most well-crafted scenes of suspense I have seen. Director Meshal Al Jaser takes advantage of extremely low lighting in the middle of the desert to make an encounter with a rabid camel a truly frightening experience. Other threats on Sarah's journey home include a gang of ATV-driving thugs and her own trigger-happy father. Also, NAGA ends with probably one of the most cathartic, yet disgusting of moments.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.