Sorry boss, if you want to scare the heck out of Indians, then you have to try harder. Much harder. And we don’t need Hollywood telling us weirdness runs in the family. We know. We faced that monster way before Hollywood did. The film manages to hold our hopes because we like scary movie, we like psychological drama, and we like Toni Colette. But as the story unravels, it just becomes blah.
‘Is that your sister?’ A love interest for the brother with a weird mole asks him.
‘Yes.’ He answers
‘She looks retarded.’
And I went, ‘Whaaaaa?’
So she clucks. It is a bit unsettling at first, but remember that chachaji who makes those funny sounds when he’s reading the newspaper or nani who talks to herself sometimes? Well, family can be scarier than a silly girl who clucks. Only once, yes, once does the film make you jump out of your skin when the mom hears her cluck in the car…
I loved, loved, loved the idea of the mother (played brilliantly by Toni Colette) who makes meticulous miniatures. You know there’s something creepy going on when she makes a miniature of a mother she has just buried…
But after that? Blah! It becomes predictable. And the miniature of the car is not really a miniature. So you feel cheated. But everyone in the theatre is watching so intently, you don’t want to mutter rude things at the screen.
Builds Tension. But Kitna Slow! You Begin To Anticipate Events
That’s when you realise that the pace is excuciatingly slow and the filmmaker is taking the usual route to scare the audience. The home is darker inside than the outside, there is a grave desecrated, the dead grandma belonged to a cult, there are no cops in that city or the accidental death would be investigated (and that would give the filmmaker a chance to kill the suspicious policeman… Yes, the film gets that predictable… Sigh). Then there are clues, so many clues about where the story the story is going: strange black magic symbols (du-uh!), strange women befriend heroine, Strange woman turns out to be a ‘medium’, the entire town seems to be deserted except that the school is filled with kids who sort of vanish conveniently from the frame when weird kids are about to experience something wierder.
And this film proves that ghosts always appear behind and over the person’s shoulder. They even crawl upside down on ceilings. And knowing that weird stuff is happenning, characters enter into rooms (or go downstairs) without ever switching on the lights. And of course weird kids will see weird apparitions or visions. And most of them will be pointless. in this film, you don’t know why the dead granny is shown sitting among flames…
The Unwittingly Funny Cult Scene
Seriously, dude! Your mum just killed your dad, and your sister is dead and an even deader granny has been appearing in odd places around the house. You’re barely alive. WHY, WHY, WHY are you walking towards the area which looks strangely lit by hellfire? Run from the place, already! Of course you are going to turn out to be half-blood prince or satan’s twin or something!
This film tries really hard to be dark (literally) and mysterious and scary. But we Indians do rituals (like getting brides maried to trees and goats and what have you) that are scarier…
I left the theater laughing because the cult said, ‘Hail Paimon!’ in the same way as you heard minions say, ‘Hail, Mogambo!’ in Mr. India