If the writing manages to give a solid reason for characters to become monsters, situational thrillers can be really intense to watch. Ratheesh Reghunandan’s Udal is a wannabe Don’t Breathe that was able to hold the viewer’s interest till the end, and it also ended up in that grey space where you are wondering about things that led to this situation. There are patches of drama that weren’t syncing well with the mood of the movie, but on the whole, Udal keeps you occupied with its possible brutal twists.
Shiny is a housewife who resigned from her job after marriage. During the lockdown, she was stuck at her husband’s home and had the responsibility of taking care of her mother-in-law, who was in poor shape. Home nurses didn’t stick around much, and life was suffocating for Shiny. She had an affair with her college junior Kiran, with whom she shared everything. One night, Shiny and Kiran plan to do something that could free Shiny from this suffocation. But things didn’t go the way they intended and what we see in Udal is a series of traumatic events.
Ratheesh Reghunandan is never trying to justify Shiny’s deeds. Instead, he shows us what all led her to be this remorseless person who decided to put an end to the discomfort in her day-to-day life. The events that unfold once the plan goes out of Shiny’s hands is the area where the movie scores. The character Kuttichayan who was a soft-spoken man till that point transforms into this torture machine, and he has his justification for that act of violence. Even those in the audience who came expecting just sleazy stuff were in silence while this battle between father-in-law and daughter-in-law happened on screen.
It is fascinating to see Indrans getting offered some really intriguing roles at this stage of his career. Kuttichayan in Udal is a role that uses his familiar likability and then shifts the tone to an entirely different zone. The transition was brilliant, and his performance was a key factor in the movie being engaging. Durga Krishna was also really good as Shiny. The frustration and lack of empathy in Shiny were portrayed neatly by her. Only the dialogue delivery towards the end had some issues. Dhyan Sreenivasan, as the clueless lover boy, was just about okay, and his tensed reactions at times offered unintended moments of laughter.
The build-up and events are pretty exciting in Ratheesh Reghunandan’s writing. It is actually in certain detailings the movie falters a bit. The way the couple behaves inside the house will make you feel that the makers are deliberately making them less careful in order to create tension. The death of Kiran’s friend does intensify the mood, but the necessity of that death somewhere reduces the impact of that event. The cinematography was able to create that dark and spooky ambiance while the editing struggled in maintaining space continuity.
Udal from Ratheesh Reghunandan is an appreciable attempt to create an edge-of-the-seat situational thriller. The “lonely housewife” trait is a license to unleash sleaziness. But Udal knows where to place those human desperations to make the plot tidy. Even though unpredictability is not a strong point of the script, the making was able to keep us invested in this domestic bloodshed.
Even though unpredictability is not a strong point of the script, the making was able to keep us invested in this domestic bloodshed.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended