Forensic Movie Review: A solid thriller that gets the job done
Another decent addition to the growing roster of thrillers in Malayalam cinema this year
I went to see Forensic only hours after hearing in the morning news about a missing girl's body being discovered. This happening on the release day of an investigative thriller which actually revolves around missing girls gives the film's opening portions a sense of verisimilitude. But once you get past that, Forensic is a cinematic thriller whose main objective is to provide escapist entertainment, which it successfully manages to do.
This is a film that is better appreciated if comparisons to Anjaam Pathira or Raatsasan are avoided. It has now become a habit for some to compare any serial killer film to Raatsasan, as if it established some kind of benchmark. It really didn't, and such comparisons are unhealthy, in my opinion. Each film must be analysed for its own merits. When viewed independently, Forensic has a lot of positive qualities that elevate it above the run-of-the-mill thriller.
Directors: Akhil Paul, Anas Khan
Cast: Tovino Thomas, Mamta Mohandas, Reba Monica John, Saiju Kurup
One difference that I found between Anjaam Pathira and Forensic is that the latter is more clear about how it got to the killer instead of being slightly vague as the former did. I'm not necessarily saying that one approach is better than the other, and some may dismiss it as spoon-feeding. What worked for Anjaam Pathira may not work for Forensic as the latter is much more intricate than it appears to be. There may be loopholes -- even the best thrillers have them -- but Forensic kept me so invested in the process that being distracted by a small doubt about the previous scene is not something that I wanted to do for a film of this nature.
Forensic brings to the table some familiar as well as some unfamiliar elements. There is more of the latter, really. The film is essentially Malayalam cinema's answer to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (or its spin-offs) -- those popular, multi-episode shows which took enough time to show the fascinating methods employed by forensic experts to solve a crime. And given that one of the main characters in the film is a medico-legal advisor named Samuel John Kaattookaran (Tovino Thomas), it's only fair that we get some idea of his working process.
Though there is not much character development here -- I'm not sure the film even needs it -- Tovino brings the necessary class and 'mass' to his role. This is a character who is supposed to simply appear smart, confident, and carry off a fight/chase scene well. In effect, he has every trait required for an ideal, uber-cool sleuth.
And as Rithika Xavier IPS, the officer in charge of the investigation, Mamta Mohandas carries an air of haughtiness enough to annoy Samuel. The two characters share a past, not the romantic kind, which I found quite refreshing. In fact, there is no time for romance anywhere, even when a possibility arises in the form of an intern (Reba Monica John) who shows up one day to work with Samuel. Where is the time for romance when a serial killer is out there wreaking havoc? Saiju Kurup, who plays Samuel's brother, conjures up some light-hearted moments when things get too serious.
The film takes delight in throwing multiple red herrings at you before it takes you to the actual killer. Though I was able to predict who it was, I liked the way the revelation was made and the way Samuel explained the reason why this killer managed to remain elusive for so long. The film makes use of two good actors -- I refrain from revealing their names or gender as it's spoiler territory -- in sufficiently chilling negative roles.
If you, like me, went to see some satisfying revelations, then Forensic has an ample amount of them. It makes you think the main killer has been revealed just seconds before the intermission, but then it comes up with more surprises in its second half. And do I really need to say how good Jakes Bejoy's background score is? Forensic is another decent addition to the growing roster of thrillers in Malayalam cinema this year.