November 30, 2023

Evil Eye review: Where’s the promised horror?

It’s a pleasure to see Sarita Choudhary in a substantive part. Hopefully, we will see more of her, in something more credible.

Evil Eye movie cast: Sarita Choudhary, Sunita Mani, Omkar Maskati, Bernard White
Evil Eye movie directors: Elan Dassani, Rajeev Dassani
Evil Eye movie rating: Two stars

A brand new film, under the joint Blumhouse-Purple Pebble Pictures banner, is based on the oldest schtick in the book: punarjanam (rebirth). Think every single Bollywood blockbuster coasting on the theme, take away the songs and dances, add in a US location, talismans that ward off the evil eye, and desis speaking in tongues, and that’s about what you get.

Pallavi (Mani), attractive and single, has a strange relationship with her over-protective mother, Usha (Choudhary). Pallavi, who lives in the US, takes to heart every opinion her mom has about her, while at the same time resisting it with all her might. Every time Pallavi picks a man, the helicopter mum begins hovering, even when she seems to have come with the perfect Mr Right, Sandeep (Maskati). He’s too perfect, declares Usha darkly, and proceeds to prove her point.

There’s something about her mother that Pallavi doesn’t know, which her academician father Krishnan (White) lets slip when he can no longer keep it to himself: many years back, Usha was in an abusive relationship which didn’t end well, and whose impact can still be felt. So now she refuses to leave the house, battling migraine-y-flashbacks about drowning and deaths.

You pick on the central theme of the film early enough: misogyny is global, whether it is something that Usha suffered in her early years in Delhi, or Pallavi, losing her independence because of her new love, in the US. The film speaks out loud about daughters looking out for daughters, just in case we missed it, right in the end. But you wish it was done better: it goes back and forth like a metronome, swinging between the two sets of people – Pallavi and her too-good-to-be-true boyfriend and Usha and supportive spouse. Contrivances pop up, and the actors use exaggerated accents which keep slipping, especially Krishnan The ‘South Indian’ Dad underlining his ‘ths’ whenever he remembers to do so. And if you want to lace your film with ‘these superstitious Indians’, then you have to be careful that your characters don’t appear to be stereotypical.

Of the lot, Mani isn’t bad, while Maskati can’t seem to summon up sufficient menace: where’s the promised horror in the flick then? It’s a pleasure to see Sarita Choudhary in a substantive part, though. Hopefully, we will see more of her, in something more credible.


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