Director: Vikram K. Kumar
Cast: R.Madhavan, Neetu Chandra, Saranya, Deepak Dobriyal
Storyline: When an engineer and family move into a new apartment on the 13th floor, he comes across a daily soap on TV that closely mirrors the happenings in his household.
Bottomline: Tune in your head-sets for a modern entertaining supernatural thriller that could’ve done with a little snipping.
Understanding that spooks today sound more funny than scary to the modern audience, director Vikram K Kumar brings us that rare Tamil spook-fest that is designed to make you laugh at the eeriness of the situation.
And it’s the relatable humour, the matter-of-factness and the light-hearted mood that make you sit through this film that’s stretched beyond indulgence.
There’s a good reason that horror films around the world are usually about 100 minutes long or less. The supernatural genre needs a generous amount of willing suspension of disbelief and unless there’s a gratifying fantasy element involved, nobody wants to suspend disbelief for too long.
At least, not to watch blood and gore. Certainly not when the basic premise of the film itself is flawed (as is the case in most horror films).
Here, engineer Manohar (Madhavan) strangely seems to be the only one in the family who can see that the daily soap reflects the happenings in his household and he’s not your regular soap watcher. Or maybe the intellectually-challenged soap-addicts at home always miss that damned recap segment.
Yes, Hollywood horror films too take their time to get things going but once they do, the body count is always on the rise and the narrative goes at breakneck speed and stops only after most of the characters are dead, after momentarily dwelling into reasons that address the root of the horror. Here, Vikram K Kumar takes his own time to shake things up, plaguing the narrative with songs that should rightly feature in the deleted scenes of a DVD. Then, the flashback sequence in second act overstays its welcome and slams the brakes on the story-telling.
If the film works despite these obvious flaws, it is because the director seems to know exactly what the modern audience is tired of watching. No God-men spouting mumbo-jumbo, no psychotic looking psychics, no scary lecherous watchmen, no rickety lifts, no humans possessed by ghosts and most of the horror, except the very end, happens in broad day light.
P.C. Sreeram’s cinematography sets the mood and lights up the space for the spooks to unfold in a world familiar to us without ever resorting to overtly scary-looking visuals to convey horror. Even the gore in the flashback is made more effective when we are shown the aftermath in classic black and white grading. Just don’t pay attention to the occasionally drunken camera that shakes in a desperate attempt to build tension. If the look and the feel of this scare fest is world class, it’s purely because of P.C. Sreeram and Sreekar Prasad who should’ve rightfully been given the licence to knock off 30-40 minutes of the film.
And, there’s the leading man R.Madhavan who’s always in control of the film, playing down his reactions to make it more relatable to the urban audience, employing drama only when absolutely necessary. Neetu Chandra has poor-make up to blame and the poor lip sync/dubbing
suggests that they probably didn’t shoot some of her scenes separately
for the Hindi and the Tamil versions of the film.
With so many pluses, it’s a pity this film isn’t any shorter. But as they say, all’s well that ends well and ‘Yaavarum Nalam’ ends well.