June 22, 2024



Filmmaker and movie producer Zenofar Fathima’s long awaited paranormal thriller series “Specter: Black Out” has finally made a spine-chilling opening prior to its OTT release next week on Zee5 Global, the world’s largest platform for South Asian content available in over 190 countries. The series, which has been widely touted as the first ever fictional escape room TV show in the world, made its deadly opening with Season 1 to an audience consisting of cast, crew, media, movie critics, VIP guests and dignitaries, and was held at the Paramount Hotel Business Bay, Dubai. Some of the prestigious attendees at the launch included prominent public figures such as group CEO of Speedy Comics and PopCon Middle East, as well as pioneer of pop culture in the Middle East, Dr. Rashed Mohammed Zubair Al Farooq, internationally renowned film & media consultant and previously Film & Television Commissioner at the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, and His Excellency Yaqoob Al Ali, Executive Chairman, Al Ali Group of Company.

The paranormal thriller slash mystery, directed and helmed by Zenofar Fathima and her brainchild Zen Film Productions respectively, and co-directed and written by young and budding filmmaker and screenwriter Afraah Farhana, focuses on an ensemble of struggling individuals who are mysteriously invited to partake in a casting call audition that promises a hefty reward, held in the very strange, disconcerting premises of an escape room. As they delve deeper into the escape room, the lines between reality and illusion begin to blur.

The project sees the seasoned director Fathima- who has directed and produced over 20 shorts on various topics such as COVID-19 and cyber extortion- combine her social activist filmmaking style with her well-known penchant for the horror genre together with newcomer Farhana’s contemporary approach and eye for detail. The filmmakers promise Specter: Black Out audiences a powerful social commentary rooted in significant, relatable subjects and moral dilemmas that are seamlessly interlaced within the narrative threads of the series, whether it be dialogue or the mechanics of the challenges within each section of the escape room. With this aspect of the series putting a spin on the typical escape room film or show, Specter: Black Out is now known as Zen Film Productions’ “most ambitious project” yet.

Season 1 was praised for multiple details by the private screening’s attendees, from sound and the official theme, to the group synergy in performances, as well as cinematography and screenplay. “Along with the performances, the technical aspects really surprised me,” said Hans Fraikin. “Specter not only boasts an immersive use of sound, but I also noticed that unlike the quintessential horror movie or series where you can’t see anything, it wasn’t “dark”- light and color was used effectively as per the scene’s tone and mood,” said the film & TV distribution, financing and co-production expert.

“I have seen Zenofar (Fathima’s) films and witnessed her journey from the very beginning, when she was making short films that were 1 or 2 minutes long,” said His Excellency Yaqoob Al Ali. “Now, she has scaled to the extent of creating a universe with a TV series that has such an immense production value. I really enjoyed watching it.”

Pop culture aficionado Dr. Rashed Al Farooq had also shared his thoughts on the series to the cast, crew and other guests at the private screening. “I did not know what to expect when I was coming here today”, said the entrepreneur. “The creativity and thought that went into this project is truly amazing and so evident. I was engrossed throughout, and speechless to say the least.”

The highly anticipated project continues to make waves in the GCC, even prior to its release on OTT.  “Of course, Specter: Black Out being one of the first ever escape room series is not to be taken lightly- it is a great accolade to have. I am very thrilled to have brought this vision to life and am even more excited for the world to watch Season 1,” Fathima said.

Starring in Season 1’s ensemble cast includes Fathima herself, UAE lifestyle and fashion influencer Muhammad Junaid, award winning emcee and host Joe Mohan, actor slash interior design entrepreneur Priya Telavvane, professionally trained method actor Allinson Louis Aranha, fashion designer Yasir Akhlaq, Canada based content creator Dhruv Gogia and many more talents from over 10 different countries. While Season 1 ends on a suspenseful cliffhanger that changes the entire trajectory of the saga, Season 2 is touted as “the beginning of the end” by the filmmakers, with Fathima also promising an additional lineup of more untapped talent of the GCC, as well as seasoned celebrity actors and socialites. “Although we can’t reveal any details at the moment, I can say that we have a lot of exciting things planned for Season 2, including star-studded appearances from talented industry names,” said Fathima.

The escape room thriller series also features a few notable collaborations, such as the partnership between Zen Film Productions and BlackOut Realistic Horror Escape Games by Cave Entertainment, a renowned UAE escape room brand, as the official location partner for the series. Further adding to the immersive experience and world building within the Specter: Black Out universe is also the haunting, evocative house track “One Life” by Tim Dian, the official soundtrack and theme for the series. “Making the creative decision of selecting ‘One Life’ by Tim Dian as the official theme for Specter has a reason behind it,” explains Fathima. “It represents our characters, the participants who venture into the escape room in hopes of this one opportunity changing their lives for the better. Their motivation behind it stems from believing they should make the best of the one life they have, to take risks, grab opportunities and become the best versions of themselves.In a way, it doesn’t only represent the story- it parallels the narrative of our very lives.”

Specter: Black Out is slated for release this April 25th, on Zee5 Global. To learn more about Zen Film Productions, Zenofar Fathima and her projects, log on to www.zenfilmproductions.me or say hello at hello@zenfilmproductions.me.