Movie Review: Aval (Tamil)

Every haunted house horror film begs you to ask the question: "How different is it going to be this time around?" After all, you know, how different can it be? But makers Milind Rau and Siddharth (who has also produced and co-written the film) attempt a slightly off-beaten tack, making it about a family who move next door to a young couple and the supernatural occurrences that inevitably follow, before slowly and steadily dialing up the horror in ways that's chilling and true to the genre. But the high the narrative reaches midway takes a tumble in the second half from which it never recovers. The pace slackens, the answers to the haunting aren't fully convincing as they should and a general sense of seen-it-all-before creeps in. That isn't to say there aren't any spookily staged scares, or that the subtle-but-important message about sex selection the film tries to convey isn't effective. It is. But the ennui that sets in the third act is almost as inescapable as the haunted house the characters find themselves trapped in. What ultimately works in Aval's favour is its technical finesse, recalling to mind the Malayalam horror thriller Ezra, to which the film not only owes its eerie visuals but also its core plot twist.