Bhoothakaalam starring Shane Nigam and Revathy in significant roles is an exciting mix of psychological elements and horror treatment. Director Rahul Sadasivan isn’t trying to make the movie a fiesta of jump scares. He breaks the usual horror film pattern by showing us the complicated mind space of the characters. The haunted house theme gets a treatment that manages to give it that much-needed hangover.
The story revolves around Vinu and his mother, Asha. Asha is a teacher who is taking medication for clinical depression. Vinu is this jobless young man who is going through a rough patch. After the demise of Asha’s mother, Vinu was in a complicated state of mind, and he started hearing sounds and stuff from one room in their house. The reason behind those sounds and how Vinu deals with the whole situation is what we see in Bhoothakaalam.
Bhoothakaalam is that pandemic package where you have a story set in a limited space. The house in the movie is a character, and by the time the movie ends, director Rahul Sadasivan makes sure that we are aware of the plan of that house. The emphasis on the mental health part is also interesting. Usually, the characters and their backdrops are not utilized in horror films. Here, the horror element kicks in only at the last moment, and you are interested more in the past of the mother and the son. Rather than a particular event, it is actually the treatment that works as a twist factor.
The character of Vinu seems like a typical character you associate with Shane Nigam. Even though he has done similar characters in his filmography, what differentiates Vinu from all the other characters is his fear. Vinu’s reaction to the supernatural is more natural. And Shane was really effective in pulling off this character. Revathy as Asha (or should I say Asha as Asha?) was also really good as the mother. The character is written in a way that feels different from the stereotypical mother characters in the movies. Her mental trauma also adds a layer of drama to the story. Occasionally her dialogue delivery felt a bit stiff when she tried to say the dialogues precisely the way it was written. James Elia as the relative and Saiju Kurup as the counselor are the other two main characters with limited screen time.
When you look at the story, there is this perspective of two emotionally fragile individuals with a major difference in opinion tackling a situation together that has fear as the major hurdle. I am not saying I got this layer as soon as I saw the film. Rahul Sadasivan navigates the story in such a minimalistic way that you are somewhere persuaded to think about the drama differently. The editing plays a crucial role in maintaining the tension. As I said initially, the emphasis is not on creating too many jump-scares. Shehnad Jalal’s cinematography, along with the sound design, also plays a crucial role in keeping the film in that intriguing space. The only thing that didn’t work for me in the movie was the song composed by Shane Nigam himself. The song is good, but the film’s treatment and mood didn’t require it.
Even badly made films will succeed in scaring you with visual gimmicks. There is a genuine effort in Bhoothakaalam to walk away from predictable moments. And you can see them brilliantly utilizing the small canvas and limitations to reinvent the treatment to an extent. Clocking at one hour and 45 minutes, Bhoothakaalam manages to be an engaging psychological horror thriller with commendable performances and impressive making.
There is a genuine effort in Bhoothakaalam to walk away from predictable moments. And you can see them brilliantly utilizing the small canvas and limitations to reinvent the treatment to an extent.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended