Mrs Serial Killer Movie Review: A blunt attack on all things nice
Shirish Kunder’s film is a ghastly addition to Indian serial killer movies
At the start of Mrs Serial Killer, Jacqueline Fernandez says, “You haven’t seen torture yet. You will see it now.” Shirish Kunder’s film doesn’t disappoint. A murder mystery, the film unfolds in a gloomy haze of counterfeit cinephilia. There are fetuses in jars, trenchcoats on racks, an abundance of Dutch tilts (a Kunder special) and enough neon-lighting to make Nic Refn sick.
Shirish has pulled such antics before — Jaan-E-Mann, his debut musical, opened in space — but the fun of his past pranks was in their occurrence within a rigidly mainstream mould. To see him repeat those tricks on Netflix, after having tested the digital waters with the short film Kriti (2016), is especially disheartening. We’ve seen filmmakers blundering in the face of newfound freedom. Here’s one deliberately misspending it.
Cast: Jacqueline Fernandez, Manoj Bajpayee, Mohit Raina
Director: Shirish Kunder
Producer: Farah Khan
Streaming on: Netflix
When her husband is locked up for serial murders, Shona (Jacqueline) is shaken. On the advice of a lawyer (Darshan Jariwala, happily immobile), she sets out re-enacting the crimes. Her hope is that they will exonerate her husband — since he couldn’t have done the killings from jail. The copycat conceit recalls Basic Instinct — with the mystery novel of that film exchange for actual murder — but the suspicion never falls on Shona. This is largely thanks to the brilliant police work of Imran (Mohit Raina), with whom she shares a past.
Manoj Bajpayee plays the husband. The actor, who once starred in iconic serial killer movies like Kaun? and Aks, returns to the genre with veteran glee. Just watching him squirm — politely, willfully — before getting mobbed outside a court is a delight. Sadly, we see less and less of him, as the story fixates on Jacqueline’s frantic attempts to play both cat and mouse. In one scene, she starts out sad, then brightens up after cracking a password, goes sad again and finally ends up faintly determined. The turn of emotions is so fast and over the top that even a news anchor in a following scene looks doggedly understated.
The film is smothered in light. The indoor’s are a ghastly green, Jacqueline’s scenes are blazingly red and the druggy exteriors resemble a Tame Impala album art. Even a stupidly unnecessary scene — Imran picking a fight at a bar — is dressed up in candy-coloured hues. The production design is equally flashy: antlers aligning over a character’s head as the camera moves is the oldest trick in the Forced Symbolism book (they even mess this up, with the wrong suspect in the frame).
The funky wall jump by debutant Zayn Marie, playing a kidnapped Taekwondo teacher, is a fun nod to female Martial arts movies. It culminates in a crazier sequence that must be seen to be believed. The rest of the references aren’t that bright — despite the film’s thorough conviction in its genre-tributing mood. “The fun of watching The Sixth Sense again,” a character crows near the end, “is to realize the clues were before your eyes.” The clue to Mrs Serial Killer is clear: don’t watch it even once.