The Karthik Subbaraj silent thriller film begins with a tribute to the silent films, from “Raja Harishchandra” to “Pushpak”. Though, the thriller is not as silent as one would expect – there’s a consistent Background Score (Santosh Narayan) which is dominantly rich in its atmospheric zone, along with squeaky, petrifying and realistic sounds of rusted iron and steel. Nevertheless, Karthik Subbaraj is a fearless director whose films have distinct narrative and unique features – Mercury rocks silently.
A group of friends (deaf and mutes) affected by mercury poisoning end up in the Corporate Earth Factory which is the reason of the poisoning – they encounter a bizarre undead human monster also affected by mercury poisoning. Karthik Subbaraj begins with the routine horror built up which has a strong effect over the impactful events. While unfolding at somewhat leisure pace which keeps stimulating the horror effect inconsistently. The sound heavy silent thriller becomes chilling once the thrilling entity enters, we start absorbing and the need of “silence”. Although, the scares are less – what builds up scarily and eerily is Karthik’s effective handling of the sensory modalities – deprecating us to breathe for a while. The unique conflict between senses – sight and sound trembles into a thrilling cat and mouse game.
Cinematographer S Tirru captures the essence of “effect” with green hue which at times comes off as a toxic for viewers, the desolation of forest and the ruins of factory are captured tempestuously. There’s a long one shot sequence which actually made me hold my breath where the conflict arouse between the sensory functions – I was trying to derivate myself into the darkness of the auditorium but the toxic green hue attracted the more I ignored the screen. Wild Beauty, isn’t it? Sound Designer Kunal Ranjan spices up the thriller with excruciating details of corroded and crumbling industrial ruins, seamless editing by Vivek Harshan and the stunning Production Design by Sathees Kumar which strangles the space occupancy.
It’s definitely a brilliantly-crafted thriller but that’s not essential. The major tonal shift is abrupt which throws us off the dark track while Karthik tries to get hold of social theme – environmentalism. Nevertheless, it’s commendably rendered for the effect along with fine bunch of cast including the gutsy Prabhu Deva.
“Mercury” is a noisy thriller at it’s best though marketed as a silent thriller film, it makes us sick with the toxic green hue and Karthik’s fearless and gutsy filmmaking sails safely through this interesting cinematic venture.
Release: 13 April, 2018
Director: Karthik Subbaraj
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