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Birthmark Movie Review: Mirnaa and Shabeer star in a mysteriously mounted film with no payoffs

In short, Birthmark is a film that is brimming with potential and visual experience but becomes a victim of unclear vision

Birthmark Movie Review: Mirnaa and Shabeer star in a mysteriously mounted film with no payoffs
Birthmark poster

Last Updated: 10.00 AM, Feb 23, 2024


Birthmark story

Husband-and-wife duo Lieutenant Daniel (Shabeer Kallarakal) and Jenny (Mirnaa) arrive at an isolated natural birthing village centre as they are expecting their first child. However, things do not seem as natural and pure as they claim to be, and Jenny senses something uneasy with each passing day, both with the centre and with how Danny has been behaving with her. What prompts his behaviour, and is the birthing centre a safe space for her and the unborn child?

Birthmark review

A look at the promotional materials released by the Birthmark makers is enough to pique your curiosity about the film. A poster shows a couple in their Christian wedding attire, blindfolded, as they reach towards each other. On the side is the woman, cradling her baby bump with a concerned look. And to top it off, employing the trope of an isolated and mysterious place like a birthing centre (that follows cult-like practices and has a tinge of aloofness) makes up for an interesting premise already. 

It is also interesting to see how the film employs a pregnant woman and her delivery to be the protagonist of the show instead of being relegated to plot pushers and emotional quotients. But despite having a lot of potential and a unique approach in the construction of the aesthetics of the film and the world it promises to build with several threads, Birthmark ends up leaving you with no payoffs whatsoever.


Birthmark begins by building a world in which anonymity precedes anything else. We are not told when and where the events are taking place, apart from the bare minimum that it is somewhere on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border (with characters managing to speak broken Malayalam), and at a time when Danny has returned from a war. Anonymity helps to set up the ambiguity and builds tension about where the film is taking you.

When Jenny arrives in the birthing village, which she is very wary of, and upon her husband’s suggestion, characters are introduced to support her claims. It also sets up layers with the presence of mysterious characters like paramedic Asha, helper Amulu and guard Sebastian, who suffers from dysarthria. 

There is an occult-like ceremony being performed on her on the first day at the centre, mysterious pills being given to her, and she even notices a couple leaving with their newborn with no smile on their faces. 

On the other hand, Danny grows distant and we get to see flashes of his traumatic life from wartime that come back to haunt him. Up until the first half, the cues make the film survive to build an ambitious plate of mystery. But there comes the second half and the film crumbles, with none of these threads joining to make an impactful story.

Birthmark confuses itself and mixes genres, so it fumbles to say what it wants to. Is it about the hardships of pregnancy? The highlights of natural birthing? PTSD after war? Or the perils of matrimony that a woman must go through unwillingly? Birthmark has all of these in portions, but do they really culminate well enough for a proper amalgamation of the story? No. 

Even as Mirnaa and Shabeer earnestly play their roles and the world they are in looks visually pleasing with its soft and diffused lighting, the writing is not good enough to save the film. It is casually flimsy.

Birthmark verdict

What I hoped Birthmark would be was a cult horror drama to a psychological slow-burn character study of two individuals and how the process of pregnancy can change them. But it does not attempt to do either of these. After teasing with high-concept conflicts and baiting with sensitive topics like abuse and torture imposed by war, body politics, and pregnancy issues, Birthmark fails to establish any clear stand on what it has to say.

Even as characters range in different shades of grey and the film taps the benefits of done and dusted narratives, Birthmark has the potential to offer a lot but fails to do so. The writing becomes a serious issue after a point, and just mere mystery brewing does not help. Confusion prevails until the end about what and why the film is trying to say. In short, it is a film that is brimming with potential and visual experience but becomes a victim of unclear vision.

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