Bhoot Chaturdashi movie review: Scares arrive way too late in this unevenly paced horror film
For more than one hour of this 90-minute film, there are — simply put — zero scares in Bhoot Chaturdashi.
From a story by Mainak Bhaumik, director Shabbir Mallick makes a horror film titled Bhoot Chaturdashi. The story itself is nothing new, but the horror genre could have turned out to be an interesting interpretation. Sadly though, the film suffers from astonishingly poor writing.
It is not that the film is not scary; it is just that the scares come so late in the film that by then, even the most patient members of the audience would probably have slept off in the pleasant air-conditioning of a movie theatre And that is a colossal waste.
A young aspiring filmmaker and his girlfriend are out to make a documentary film about a haunted house in Bolpur, Shantiniketan. Tagging along with them are another couple — the girl’s best friend, and her constantly irritating boyfriend. This is a formula we have seen a dozen times before. The four friends travel from the city to the secluded house in the middle of nowhere. They get into a small mishap on the way. They are warned by a tantric in the middle of the forest about the house’s scandalous past, and literally everything that you can expect does happen. The trouble is, for more than one hour of this 90-minute film, there are — simply put — zero scares.
I do not know if the director himself gets scared easily or not, but the mere mention of a haunted house or the beautiful woods — secluded as they may be — through which they drive, can, by no stretch of imagination, be expected to induce fear. What does work for the film, though, is the last 10 to 15 minutes, where a delicious little twist gives the story a whole new flavour. But sadly, this is not enough. There just is not enough balance in the progression of the film.
I must say that I loved the concluding moments of the film — those scenes are quite nice, and filled with true-blue rustic dread. Which makes me wonder — what were the writer and the director thinking? Why could not they pace out their film more evenly? Surely, they are quite capable of coming up with fantastic scenes. Why not create more such moments of tension, premonitions of impending doom, and situations of desperation throughout the rest of the film? Why not give us more ‘horror’ in a horror film?
When it comes to the performances, there is very little to say. Aryan Bhowmik has a certain screen presence which endears him to his audience. He is perhaps one of the better actors amidst the four, but never quite seems convincing as the ‘hero’ of the film. Come to think of it, Soumendra Bhattacharya does his job well, because boy, does he come across as irritating! Neither of the girls put up a good performance though. Ena Saha is a whimpering bore for most of the film, and her friend Deepshita Mitra does very little other than to look ‘hot’ in the most incongruous way. To be honest, the ghost is the best actor in the film.
I have never expected too much in terms of visual effects from the Bengali film industry, and by those standards, I must say this film does pretty well on that front. I have no complains either of the background score which, although certainly not imaginative and innovative enough, does its job well. What I am definitely miffed with is the writing. It is one of the laziest writings that I have come across in recent times. Sree Venkatesh Films should put some extra focus on this department for their future films. No matter what else goes into the film, no matter how much effort you put in, if the writing is not good, the film will not work.
I am going with 1.5 stars for Shabbir Mallick’s Bhoot Chaturdashi, and an additional half-a-star for its climax scene. It almost seems as if, just like the rest of us in the audience, even the filmmaker was waiting for that one scene to arrive. I can only wish that for his future endeavours, he would have more to work with, and certainly more to offer.
Watch the trailer here
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