E: Scare-E fare? Not really
This film is not a true shiver-giver where chills flow naturally, but instead just ticks the usual genre checkboxes
All legit ghosts, both local and global, follow a code of conduct. Apart from spooking you out and going on a revenge-fuelled killing spree, they are supposed to leave a signature--doors slamming shut, unexplained apparitions, banging sounds, flickering bulbs and an empty rocking chair that creaks in the dead of night. In E, Kuku Surendran happily ticks off all theses items in the paranormal checklist, leaving you with no surprise element at all. And the inability to think out of the box makes this film a less than scary fare.
Cast: Gautami Thadimmalla
Director: Kukku Surendran
E is set in a 100-year-old tharavadu, complete with wooden panelling, antique furniture and sealed nilavara walls. But there are points that leave you confused about the authenticity of it all, including the VFX snake. A bunch of friends land there to make a documentary on Alzheimers, their subject being Malati teacher, the mistress of the house. Gautami, who plays the lead, seems to have no clue about subtlety when it comes to acting. She seems to oscillate between two expressions, one frigid and the other over-friendly. Her mascara-laden eyes fail to do a lot of talking and apart from a couple of instances she seems totally lost in her character.
E builds on some old myths, trying to create an air of foreboding out of serpent worship and black magic. But the fear quotient is always delivered in accordance with genre-specific cliches. There are moments that make you curious and offer you some slight chills, but they all lead to nothing. Manoj Pillai goes for tight frames and POVs in dimly-lit interiors to trigger fear, but there are also some picture postcard frames that bear no obvious connection to the narrative. There are some lame attempts at comedy, made all the more intolerable by the ludicrous background score. And to top it all, there is a highly predictable, done-to-death climax, a sequence that hardly offers any edge-of-the-seat entertainment.
And while walking out of the theatre you can't help thinking what E, the title, means. There is some passing reference to the title of a book that starts with E and a stylised symbol appearing every now and then. But the connection and the relevance completely eludes the audience. Definitely not a film that does the genre proud.