New web series Blinking Twice uses subtle horror and suspense to preach mental health awareness – Film & TV
A hanging drip, a beeping heart monitor, a frail old man in bed – and later, an old tape recorder and a lamp flashing twice – the feeling of unease suffocates from the first images of Blinking twiceSyed Zeshan Ahmed’s thick new webseries premieres today (Friday) on YouTube
The series of four episodes, ranging from 15 to 20 minutes, could pass for horror but it is not. Enigmatic, certainly, but not horror, in itself.
In the first two episodes, titled secret clicks and slave of a dollposted privately for Pictures to preview, there’s a slow burn of mystery as the series sets its pace. The setting is the house of a psychiatrist, Faizan (Syed Afraz Rasool), whose father is lying on the bed, seriously ill, in the next room.
Almost the entire series takes place in this room, tells me Zeshan, who serves as the show’s producer, director, and screenwriter (the series also credits Ali Khurrum Rathore and Muhammad Khizer as screenwriters).
“I wanted to give the feeling that we once had listening to bedtime stories. Other productions would have been cut to a B-Roll (cuts of other scenes and locations, re-enacting the stories), but that wasn’t the idea,” he explains.
In the first episode, secret clicks, Faizan receives a late-night visit from a frantic IT professional. Despite the doctor’s insistence on getting an appointment the next day, the man (Paras Masoor, excellent), doesn’t take no for an answer: he shows the doctor pictures of him sleeping… taken from an angle high enough by someone else. Is he crazy, he asks?
In the next episode, slave of a doll, whose premiere is scheduled for February 18, a young maid (Kanwal Khan, another excellent performance), is brought in for a walk-in session by the maid who works next door. Again, despite Faizan’s reluctance, the case is thrust upon him. Kanwal does not speak at first and carries a doll related to a cultural practice where she is from. The girl is as traumatized as the man in the first episode.
“The look is suspense, thriller, horror, but the essence of the story is about mental health awareness – about what patients see, feel and experience,” says the director. Zeshan didn’t want the story to be judgmental, he says — he deliberately chose to “sandwich the message into the entertainment.”
History isn’t always a success story either, he explains. “Counseling is not an easy task, as evidenced by the end of the second episode.”
Zeshan holds a bachelor’s degree in media science from Szabist and has worked for Hum TV and BBC World Service before finally creating Black Production Films where his documentary and corporate clientele includes Facebook, Abraaj, Shell, US Aid, UNICEF, Vice News and CNN Big big stories. Secretly though, he says, he waited for the right time to get into narrative cinema.
Zeshan taught at the universities of Iqra, Ziauddin and Greenwich, removing young people with potential from his batches.
YouTube’s reason is obvious, he says, because there’s little regulation and almost no policy about what kind of stories you can and can’t tell here, as opposed to working on television, where there is a strict set of limiting genres. and practices.
Despite the constant flicking of the cursor back and forth as Faizan and his patients speak, the cinematography (credited to Farhan Golden) — particularly in its opening credits — suits the genre. Sometimes one notices fleeting examples that will eventually tie into a larger overarching narrative.
There’s more to the story than meets the eye, Zeshan teases. The next two episodes Awards from our past and The golden cupstarring Saleem Mairaj, Erum Akhtar, and Akbar Subhani (a mainstay of the series since the first episode), will give people clues about the ambiguous elements… if so, viewers have been paying attention.
Although this is the first step for Zeshan, and he doesn’t want to limit himself to one genre, he says he has plans for a second season of Blinking twice.