“All About Eve” meets “Black Swan” in Bollywood, as a diva, feeling her popularity waning as a younger actress’ star rises, resorts to black magic to destroy her nemesis in helmer Vikram Bhatt’s 3D horror love triangle, “Raaz 3: The Third Dimension.” With only the vaguest thematic link to the two previous entries in the “Raaz” horror franchise, “3” basically adds a few mild special effects to standard melodrama while encouraging sexy Bipasha Basu to go over the top in grand theatrical style. Unimaginatively scripted, indifferently directed and unevenly thesped, “The Third Dimension” lacks sizzle beyond Basu’s impassioned scenery chewing.
When Shanaya (Basu) is overlooked for best actress, the nod going instead to the younger Sanjana (a pretty but vapid Esha Gupta), Shanaya summons a powerful evil spirit (Manish Chaudhary) and convinces director/boyfriend Aditya (Emraan Hashmi, looking perpetually perplexed) to administer a daily dose of unholy water to her rival. Aditya goes along with the scheme with increasing reluctance as he falls for (and upon) the younger leading lady.
Lenser Pravin Bhatt’s slick atmospheric lensing sets the stage for subsequent paranormal manifestations. Weird sounds echo, curtains blow, TVs light up by themselves and call Sanjana’s name, and wormy hands reach out from screens to grab her throat as nightmare succeeds nightmare. Other, murderous horrors seem to belong to the waking world, and are duly investigated by the police.
Meanwhile back at her opulent mansion, Shanaya, compelling in her extreme narcissism, sexily reclines beneath an enormous picture of herself, and rolls in ecstasy, imagining the terror she has wrought.
Helmer Vikram Bhatt (who directed the first “Raaz”) apparently wants to spare his actresses any unseemly ordeals. The bloody wounds that materialize on Basu’s face when her evil spirit is attacked prove non-disfiguring, and only propel her forward more resolutely. Even the swarms of hallucinated cockroaches that land on Gupta, causing her to strip out of her dress and appear stark naked in public, are golden.
Every now and then, the good guys venture into the spirit world, which looks suspiciously like a prop room in a rundown movie studio, to try to free Sanjana from her curse, causing several secondary characters in the real world to drop like flies.
But most of “Raaz 3” transpires in the luxury homes and beach houses of its various cliched showbiz personalities, or on the set while shooting the obligatory, extravagantly costumed musical numbers. Unfortunately, these flat, far from finger-snapping interludes do not tilt toward the supernaturally horrific; helmer Bhatt utilizes 3D by incorporating the film-within-the-film motif in pullback appearances of a choreographed camera dolly circling the dancers.