WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of Betaal, now streaming on Netflix.
Netflix’s Betaal focuses on a sinister mountain in the Nilja village in Maharashtra, India. Set in modern times, the military is brought in by a conglomerate led by shady contractor Ajay as they want to clear the village out. It’s all so politicians can build a tunnel through the mountain for a highway, but they ignore the villagers’ pleas on it being haunted.
Ajay tricks soldiers into wiping out most of the villagers, but this awakens the demon, Betaal, who sends his zombie horde after them. However, while viewers don’t see much of the undead in the early episodes which are set in the dead of the night, they do know they’re commanded by a vile overlord, Lynedoch. He’s actually Betaal’s avatar and as the episodes roll on, it becomes clear that the Chosen One has deep ties to India’s colonial past.
Lynedoch is actually a colonel from when the British ravaged and ruled. The military finds this out the hard way as the colonel proves to be a master supernatural strategist, forcing them to team up with surviving villagers who reveal Lynedoch actually brought a battalion of troops to kill them in the late 1800s. The genocide wasn’t just about dominion over the land, however, as he heard of the demonic presence in the mountain. When young Saanvi finds a grimoire that documented the full story, it all brings everything together and gives us perspective on why Betaal has indeed possessed the colonel. More so, it wasn’t a curse as they thought; it’s a willful possession.
When the colonel and his army got trapped in the mountain, they died one by one. Some passed due to hunger, there was cannibalism and some were mercy killings. But Lynedoch didn’t mind being trapped because he really came for the power of Betaal. He found a ritualistic table and slaughtered his own son to offer as a sacrifice. The tome, written by slaves Lynedoch had, reveals the colonel actually practiced the dark arts himself and had an occult ritual that could bind Betaal to his body. They became a perfect fit for each other and Lynedoch then turned his other soldiers into beings of the night. However, they were locked into the mountain by the villagers.
The current regiment, led by Vikram, unleashes the evil when they storm the mountain, not realizing the zombies are all colonial troops. They’re hidden in the cave’s roofs like vampires but move as quickly as Dawn of the Dead zombies. On top of that, they’re not mindless as the colonel can control each one. They spread their infection via bites, scratches and blessed bullets.
To make matters worse, Lynedoch has a powerful Dracula effect as he can mind-control people such as Vikram who’ve committed atrocities against humanity, or Ajay who lusts for power. He can get inside innocent people’s minds too, dredging up bad memories and haunting dreams. Luckily, the remaining villagers have old-school methods such as sprinkling salt, ash, or turmeric on the zombies to kill them, making protective barriers from these powders. Ultimately, the rebels end up deploying usual defenses against zombies that include placing stakes through their heads or burning their bodies, but they know they need to scour grimoire for the real key to killing the all-powerful colonel. He’s tethered to the ritualistic table and needs a virgin sacrifice to be truly freed, which gives the soldiers a window but places Saanvi in danger.
Directed by Patrick Graham and Nikhil Mahajan, Betaal stars Viineet Kumar Singh, Jitendra Joshi, Aahana Kumra and Suchitra Pilla. The four episodes are currently available on Netflix.
Netflix's Betaal holds some dark secrets regarding its sinister Dracula-like overlord as he becomes tethered to a demon.