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Heaven movie review: A clever, chilling setup gets undone by a bloated second half in this slow-burn thriller

While the first half is interesting with just enough twists and red herrings, the filmmaker loses the grip in the second half by piecing together a puzzle that doesn’t quite fit into how the film was progressing

2.5rating
  • Sanjith Sidhardhan

Last Updated: 12.16 PM, Jun 17, 2022

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Heaven movie review: A clever, chilling setup gets undone by a bloated second half in this slow-burn thriller
Suraj Venjaramoodu in a still from Heaven

Story: Circle inspector Peter Kurishingal is among the sharpest officers; what sets him apart is that he is kind and never judgmental. After the murders of four people that also results in a personal tragedy, Peter carries out a parallel investigation to track the elusive killer and find his motive.

Review: In the past two months alone, Malayalam has had its fair share of investigative thrillers. While some of them like Mammootty’s CBI 5: The Brain relied on nostalgia, the ones that truly caught the attention of the audience were those that had novel plots and intriguing protagonists. These include Jayasurya’s John Luther, Saiju Kurup’s Antakshari and Anoop Menon’s Twenty One Grams. Suraj Venjaramoodu’s Heaven, which is helmed by debutant Unni Govindraj, starts off with promisingly enough – it has a chilling plot that is well set-up to take the audience on a riveting ride and a protagonist, who is emotionally involved in the case that he is investigating.

The film marks Suraj’s second outing as a cop in the past two months, but there’s nothing similar in the two endeavours except that he is a model police officer who isn’t afraid to take law into his own hands. Unni, who has co-scripted the movie with former cop PS Subramanian, interestingly shapes its character by showing his deftness at handling two cases. This also leads into his personal life, showing how the widower is always too busy for his son – a regret that soon catches up with him after the murder of four people. How Suraj, who is perceived as too emotionally involved in the case to investigate it, finally comes to take charge and the ramifications that follow form the plot.

The first half of the movie is a slow-burner, but it has enough to keep the audience engaged. Gopi Sundar’s background score is haunting and Vinod Illampally’s grey frames add to the ambience. While the first half is interesting with just enough twists and red herrings, the filmmaker loses the grip in the second half by piecing together a puzzle that doesn’t quite fit into how the film was progressing. The moment the killer is revealed and his motives made clear, it almost undoes all the clever work that came before. The final twist too somehow aids in salvaging that, but by then the interest has already waned. 

Suraj as the guilt-ridden cop does a decent job in another sombre role and despite a plethora of such serious characters, he succeeds in not making them seem repetitive. This deserves praise as the character only has one range of emotion to play with. The supporting cast of Alencier Ley Lopez, Joy Mathew, Sudev Nair, Jaffer Idukki and Sminu Sijo too don’t stand out, in a good way. Surprise cameo from a young actor, however, doesn’t add much to the plot. Credit must be given to the writers for depicting the police procedures accurately, but this has now become a norm with films such as Kuttavum Shikshayum too ditching the style for rooted-to-reality treatment.

Verdict: Suraj Venjaramoodu’s slow-burn investigative thriller starts off well with an intriguing premise but the makers soon lose grip when they add more twists to the plot, some of which feel too far-fetched to fit into the movie’s theme.

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