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'O' Kannada movie review: Milana Nagaraj - Amrutha Iyengar film has a few scares but way too many cliches

Milana Nagaraj and Amrutha Iyengar star in the horror thriller written and directed by Mahesha C Ammalidoddy.

2/5rating
'O' Kannada movie review: Milana Nagaraj - Amrutha Iyengar film has a few scares but way too many cliches
Amrutha Iyengar in 'O'
  • Swaroop Kodur

Last Updated: 09.38 AM, Nov 15, 2022

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Story:

Step-sisters Nisha (Amurtha Iyengar) and Nikitha (Milana Nagaraj) share a troubled relationship and to make things worse, they are also entangled in a love triangle, of sorts. When the former, owing to her love for horror stories and anything spooky, in general, steals a rather alluring book/scripture from her friend's father's collection, things take a frightening turn in everyone's lives. Can the curse of the dreaded book be broken? Or will the sinners suffer a ghastly death?

Review:

Horror filmmakers are a diminishing breed in Kannada cinema. Perhaps it's the lack of faith among the audiences, or that the genre demands a high degree of precision and finesse, that filmmakers feel inhibited to explore horror wholeheartedly. Over the past few years, one finds only a handful number of entries in the list of horror movies with a small percentage of them ending up as box office successes.

Mahesha C. Ammalidoddy's 'O', in many ways, is a hark back to the glory days of the genre. In the film, we see that a cursed book, which has been passed on generationally, finds the most unassuming victim and leverages their fears, insecurities, and even their sins. Nisha, a vivacious young girl, falls prey to her boyfriend Chetan's infidelity and to make matters worse, she learns that he cheats on her with her own sister, Nikitha. And alongside, we also learn that Nisha is constantly lured by stories of fright and horror and will go to great lengths to satiate her bizarre cravings.

What writer-director Mahesh does is that he marries Nisha's conflict with her affliction. We gather that she is a sensitive soul, someone who wears her heart on her sleeve and pens her thoughts in a diary, and it becomes apparent quite early on that the scripture named O will find Nisha and gradually take over her psyche. The term sin becomes an operative one in this regard and Nisha and the scripture then strike an unspoken symbiotic relationship wherein she uses her menacing powers to seek justice. The only catch is that Nisha has no knowledge of the scripture's effect on her and nor can she anticipate the dreadful outcome.

Where the film falters, and it does so quite profusely, is in creating a conducive world for the story to take place in. There is no sense of eerieness or character to the world of 'O' and right from the bland cinematography to the dull production design, the visual aesthetic of the film is lacking in almost every regard. The director tries his best to compensate with a jarring pattern of editing but aside from a few interesting sequences, the technique ends up having no impact on the narrative. There are a few genuine jump-scares, sure, but the drabby setting doesn't allow for an immersive experience and if a horror film doesn't beguile its patrons and let them be part of its world, there is almost no chance of it working on the material alone.

As far as performances are concerned, both Amrutha Iyengar and Milana Nagaraj put on a good show but the writing doesn't allow them to be seen as fleshed-out characters. Siddu Moolimane, as the boyfriend Chetan, tries his best and has a few intriguing scenes towards the climax. Suchendra Prasad brings his experience to the table as the psychiatrist and leaves a positive impression. 

Verdict:

'O' is not the most innovative horror film out there and nor is it original in its conception. The film, like many of its kind, depends heavily on post-production and less on a solid script which eventually becomes its undoing. Aside from a few interesting moments, O fails to impress and it certainly did not work for me, who is scared quite easily. Give it a watch if you have a lot of free time in hand (no judgments).

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