What lies in the history of the house we occupy? What lies in the doors of our neighborhood? What lies beneath our bed? What is the unknown? Director Milind Rau chooses an interesting plot for his directorial debut and that too, a multilingual film. “The House Next Door” is the Hindi version of “Aval” (Tamil) which was released Down South to a critical acclaim. The fact that Hindi (rather Bollywood) has a shoddy record of horror films and thanks to Vikram Bhatt for ruining the genre- this film might go unnoticed. The last fine horror film was Karthik Subbaraj’s “Pizza” which scared the shit out of my delicious pizza moments but again, that emerged from Down South- make a note.
Dr. Krish (Siddharth), a neurosurgeon and his wife Laxmi (Andrea Jeremiah) are leading a happy life at the foothills of Himalayas until Paul D’Costa (Atul Kulkarni) moves in the house next door with his Wife, teenage daughter Jenny (Anisha victor) and a small daughter Sarah- and the things take a bizarre route. The story comes across an unique and layered, unseen in the history of horror films in India. Though it has typical elements (and yes, they are required) like exorcism- Milind Rau amalgamates them smartly into a technically sound film. I was surprised to see the fair use of Psychology and Religious Faith put together amidst a social issue impeccably. And he answers one persistent question, “Why don’t they just leave the house?” while not going overboard.
As a character gets possessed, the hell breaks loose and what follows is a story sending shivers and chills down the spine. A character exists magically as the day to night transition happens, was he magical? It’s a complete make-believe world: totally believable. Screenplay grips the narrative which moves steadily and scarily even though the film runs at 140 minutes. But what stands out and makes the film an unique is the at par Cinematography by Shreyaas Krishna- who lights up simple shots but with an eerie. It was a visual treat to watch the year 1934 parts in Black-White which added to horrors of the darkness.
The last horror film which I watched at the theaters was a Malayalam film “Ezra” (2017), the horror element circled mainly with the squeaky and spooky sound design- here, Sound Designers (Vishnu Govind, Sree Shankar, Vijay Rathinam) understand the silence as well as spooky elements brilliantly. And cheers to the Production Designer and the Art Director (well, they actually are going to ruin my Himalayan adventures).
Siddharth delivers a phenomenal performance, it’s so good to see actors of his calibre exploring the unexplored horror genre. Andrea Jeremiah, who I adorably loved in “Vishwaroopam” (2013), “Uttama Villian (2015) and the recent “Taramani” (2017) delivers a shoulder to shoulder act with Siddharth. Atul Kulkarni lends a good support and Anisha Victor as the possessed girl scares the gooseflesh with her excellent performance.
The only fact which I didn’t like is the dream sequence, why always the horrors in dreams? Nevertheless, here is a fine filmmaker’s debut which is technically sound and aesthetically (replace it with horrifying) satisfying. Watch some “Cinema” instead of just another “Film”, this one deserves a crown. And you know what, horror is not my cup of tea but Milind Rau served me slowly boiled hand-picked tea in a heritage-valued cup.
Release: 10 November, 2017
Director: Milind Rau
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