Movie review: Highway Sheila reimagined

The movie poster

The movie poster

Published Jun 14, 2024


Movie review: Highway Sheila - The Resurrection

Cast: Caitlyn Naicker, Raj Singh, Arish Sirkissoon and Keaton Chetty

Director: Arish Sirkissoon

Rating: 8/10

Review: Kiru Naidoo

ARISH Sirkissoon's Highway Sheila - The Resurrection is destined to be a blockbuster among local movie audiences when it opens on Friday at cinemas around the country and as far afield as Zambia.

The director reimagines the legendary ghost of Chatsworth with a fresh, cinematic twist. The jam-packed premiere last Friday evening is a testament to Sirkissoon's ability to blend folklore with modern storytelling, resulting in a captivating horror-thriller.

The legend of Highway Sheila, a spectral figure haunting Chatsworth's arterial motorway, has been a staple of South African urban myths for decades. Arkissoon and Raj Singh's script embraces this myths, using it as a foundation to build a narrative that delves deeper into Sheila's backstory, motivations, and the eerie events surrounding her ghostly apparitions.

The storyline is a family's 40-year quest to find answers to the mysterious disappearance of their 16-year-old daughter, Santoni, played by Caitlyn Naicker. A Hindu pundit and seer, played by Singh connects with her restless spirit on the highway where she disappeared in 1983.

He makes contact with two dogged Ferrari-driving detectives in Miami Vice mould, determined to crack the elusive case. While her mother pines for her in daily pujas, it becomes apparent that Santoni's disappearance is a murder. The priest and the ghost link in an otherworldly bond to seek justice so that the spirit may transition and bring closure to the grieving family.

From the opening scene, the film grips the audience with an edge of the seat tension. The cinematography is a stellar, capturing the haunting beauty of Chatsworth's landscapes, especially after dark. Shadows and light are used to create a sense of chilly mystery ably assisted by masterful make-up. The visual effects, while not overly extravagant, are effective in bringing Sheila's ghost to life in a manner that feels both ethereal and terrifying. The lives of modern-day characters from journalists to politicians to psychologists intersect with Sheila's restless spirit.

Performances throughout the film are strong, with Naicker, Singh and Sirkissoon delivering a particularly compelling delivery of their characters.

The film's pacing is well-executed, with moments of intense suspense balanced by quieter, character-driven scenes that allow the audience to connect with the individuals on screen against brilliant musical scores. Running at just under two and a half hours might be a trifle long but worth the effort of catching it on the big screen rather than wait for livestreaming.

The movie was released today.


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