Sunday, August 21, 2016

പ്രേതം (Pretham) (2016)

Director: Renjith Shankar
Writer:.   Renjith Shankar
Cinematographer: Jithu Damodar 
Cast: Jayasurya, Aju Varghese, Sharaffudeen, Govind Padmasurya 
Language: Malayalam 

Three friends are running a beach resort in Cherai where they start experiencing some paranormal activities. They approach a priest for help and through him they meet a mentalist (Hypnosis, mind-reading, NLP, psychosis തുടങ്ങിയവയുടെ ഒരു ഭയാനക version, it's incurable), who tries to help them.

The film is marketed as a horror comedy and plenty of its humour comes from spoofing malayalam horrors films from the past. They also references dialogs from films from the past including Dasaratham, Manichithrathazhu etc. It is a lazy form of generating humour and in plenty of other films they generally sound tacked on but in this film it is quite seamless, helped by its spoofish nature. The rest of its humour is largely of the double meaning nature but you can forgive that because of the characterisation of its three main characters.

It doesn't try to rationally explain the events shown in the film and embraces its supernaturalness (is that a word?). That is quite commendable as it does away with the need for having to explain everything at the end. Another film that did this very well was Sibi Malayil's 'Devadoothan' which can be also classed as the best comedy horror film from Malayalam. It was unfortunate that it tanked heavily at the box office during its theatrical run. The basic structure of Pretham is also most similar to 'Devadoothan'. While Devadoothan amped up its creepiness during its second half, Pretham proceeds like a crime story. It also suffers from Deadpool syndrome, which means that it tries to sound clever and all by mocking several other films only for it to adhere to the same stereotypes to conclude its own story.

Film is technically very sound as an audiovisual experience. Heard Jayasurya mentioning in an interview that they had a very highly rated sound designer for this film and that is reflected in it with many of its horror elements coming off well with the aid of sound effects. In terms of performances, Aju Varghese was largely irritating, GP was surprisingly decent and both Sharaffudeen and Dharmajan excelling. Jayasurya as the self important mentalist came off as largely irritating and it might be due to my natural scepticism towards the reliance on the supernatural. Overall the film is a decent one-time watch.

PS: If you want to watch a really cool show involving mind-reading, NLP etc, check out shows by Derren Brown and I would recommend the one titled 'Something wicked this way comes'. There is nothing supernatural about it by the by.

Rating: 2.5/5