The movie, scripted by Rahul and Sreekumar Shreyas, begins as a slow-burner thriller that lets you into the house and its inhabitants. It carefully constructs its characters – their pain, their frustrations and how their bond almost enchains them.
Last Updated: 09.23 PM, Jan 20, 2022
Story: Vinu stays with his mother Asha and grandmother at their rented house. After the death of the elder member, the youngster, who is unemployed and considered indolent by those around him, begins experiencing mysterious incidents within the house. This forces his mother, who also suffers from depression and has a history of mental disorders within her family, to question his sanity.
Review: In a scene from Bhoothakaalam, the girlfriend of Shane Nigam’s character Vinu, gives him a fair warning – that if he continues to not pick her calls, then he’d better find someone else. The sequence might not assume a huge significance in the thriller, which mostly centres on the relationship between a mother and son, but it sheds light on how Vinu often turns uncommunicative and cuts ties with everyone, even those near and dear to him, when faced with issues. It’s this basic emotion, which is relevant in most families now, that Bhoothakaalam’s director Rahul Sadasivan uses to build the tension and ultimately break it, with the strength of what opening up to each other can offer.
The movie, scripted by Rahul and Sreekumar Shreyas, begins as a slow-burner thriller that lets you into the house and its inhabitants. It carefully constructs its characters – their pain, their frustrations and how their bond almost enchains them. The drama is slow but intense, and both Shane Nigam and Revathi keep the audience rapt in attention through their performances.
Unlike the thrillers of the genre, the makers use the characters’ mindspace to infuse doubt into the audience even as they themselves question each other’s sanity when mysterious events occur that Vinu believes are stemming from the death of a relative. While the house itself is a character in the movie along with the duo, it isn’t a chamber film, per se. Shehnad Jalal’s cinematography succeeds in making the audience feel like a curious outsider looking into a house and then thrusting them in the middle of an intense drama. The close-up shots are used to maximum effect, to let the readers into the fear and trepidation of the duo. Gopi Sundar’s music keeps you riveted to the story that ebbs and flows but never lets you go.
Revathi as the schoolteacher puts on an acting workshop through her eyes and body language, looking forlorn and frustrated with equal ease. Shane Nigam uses his downcast expression to his advantage in the film, for which he has also written, composed and sung a track. The film also has several hair-raising moments but none more gripping, literally, than when the mother and son have to protect each other.
The movie also doesn’t have too many characters clouding the space; the counselors played by Saiju Kurup and Gilu Joseph, along with the roles essayed James Aliya, Athira Patel and Abhiram Radhakrishnan serve the overall purpose of defining the characters of Asha and Vinu. But it’s also this minimal approach that makes some of the elements redundant. The jump scares aren’t novel, but thankfully the makers don’t just rely on them to create the atmosphere.
At a runtime of just one hour and 45 minutes though, Rahul and team present a carefully crafted thriller that you wouldn’t mind watching once again to see if there’s something that you had missed.
Verdict: This thriller revolving around a mother-son duo, who battle their own issues – alone and together, is sure to keep you at the edge of your seats, thanks to powerful performances from its lead cast and the eerie atmosphere in which most of the story evolves.