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Asvins review: Vasanth Ravi is brilliant in this half-good horror thriller

Though the generic first hour of Tarun Teja’s directorial disappoints, latter half offers viewers a terrific exploration of duality

Asvins review: Vasanth Ravi is brilliant in this half-good horror thriller

Last Updated: 11.34 PM, Jun 22, 2023



Arjun, Ritu, Grace, Varun and Rahul are a group of YouTubers, who, as part of a black tourism project, seek to explore a largely dreaded, haunted mansion in the UK. The mansion, formerly owned by an archaeologist Aarthi Rajagopal, has been abandoned for many years. Will the bunch come out unscathed after their dangerous pursuit?


Asvins is a two-hour horror thriller born out of a barely 10-minute long short film helmed by Tarun Teja during the first lockdown three years ago. Named after the revered deities who find a mention in the Rig Veda, the film, while exploring duality, forges a unique blend between mythology and horror. However, to score brownie points from horror enthusiasts and widen its commercial appeal, the director undermines the potential of his strikingly original premise.


The narrative structure of Asvins is fairly conventional - the protagonists are headed to a desolate, haunted mansion in the UK, unaware of what fate has in store for them. Post intermission, the film takes us through the backstory of the mansion, explores the motive behind the evil forces and focuses on the protagonist’s efforts to overcome them.

The foremost challenge of a mainstream film storyteller is to preserve his core idea while keeping the exterior relatable - it’s a sacrifice one has to make to widen the reach of his product. The basic intent of Tarun Teja, with the first hour, is to explain how his pivotal characters are trapped in the mansion across various levels - physically, psychologically and how there’s no hope in sight.

It’s the (slightly indulgent) sound design and the innovative, partly raw cinematography that capture your attention initially. From the biblical motifs to the visual elaboration of the protagonists ‘being in deep waters’ through the path leading to the mansion, you sense the storyteller’s enthusiasm to lend a distinct personality to his ambience.

Even amidst the director’s eye for detailing on the technical front, the storytelling leaves a lot to be desired. Asvins stays true to the tropes of a horror film and struggles to break any new ground. Beyond the technical finesse, the first hour is the same-old wine - silences, eerie whispers, jump scares, the long-haired ghost with an evil laugh.

The repeated attempts to spook you don’t quite bear fruition. As an audio-visual experience, the film is ‘eventful’ but the narrative roams around in circles. However, once the basics are taken care of - you witness the director’s brilliance in full flow vis. post-intermission. Tarun Teja’s layered visualisation of duality and his portrayal of the protagonist’s psychological battles are jaw-dropping.

The director is successful in building a maze of a narrative where the protagonist finds it difficult to distinguish between reality and illusion. Within his limitations, he succeeds in transporting you to a basic, but well-crafted parallel universe. The intriguing detailing within a ‘good versus evil’ battle keeps you thoroughly invested. Asvins, even while dealing with abstract ideas, flourishes in moments where the focus is to stay true to the story and not please its target audience.

Vasanth Ravi’s supremely authoritative performance is deservedly complemented by the smart colour grading - with the use of greens, blues, and reds - and Vijay Siddharth’s chilling background score. The former singlehandedly spearheads the second hour - he never oversells the emotion, remains vulnerable and you root for him no matter what. Vimala Raman is aptly cast as the archaeologist in her brief yet impactful appearance.

Muralidaran, Saraswathi Menon, UdhayaDeep and Simran Pareek chip in with assured performances though their character arcs could’ve been fleshed out better. At times, the film tries too hard to impress with its soundscape- more like an enthusiastic kid with a bag of tricks. The open-ending is apt and helps the film stay in the mind of a viewer long after it’s over. The literal translation of the Tamil dialogues into Telugu is jarring in places.


Asvins is a tale of two contrasting halves. The uninspiring first hour is followed by a compelling half post-intermission, adorned by the technical finesse and a fabulous performance by Vasanth Ravi. The superb visualisation of its universe and its soundscape create a lasting impression. Though the film isn’t perfect by any means, it introduces audiences to a promising new-age storyteller - Tarun Teja.


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