Lisaa Movie Review: Can we reboot horror, please?
What's the joy in watching a horror film if you consistently know what’s going to happen next?
On several occasions, I have wondered whether filmmakers sit and ponder on how to say the same thing in new ways. I know I do with my reviews. But then, it becomes unavoidable, especially when you write about a film almost every week, and when they become predictable to a fault. And if any genre deserves this accusation, it has to be horror. Our films rarely break away from the template -— in fact, our horror films are so trite even when blindfolded, you can guess when the ghost comes. And Lisaa falls prey to the same.
Cast: Anjali, Sam Jones, Makarand Deshpande
Director: Raju Viswanath
Lisaa (Anjali) decides to visit her estranged grandparents as a messenger of peace. Of course, they live in a desolate house in the midst of the wilderness. Of course, there’s a friend who is ready to go to any lengths for the protagonist. And of course, she doesn’t want to leave even after experiencing strange events. As the background music either stops or becomes too intense, you know a ghost is about to pop up and say hi. Fairly early, the film becomes a ‘Guess what happens next’ game that you play just to battle the boredom. I may have been happy that I was right on most occasions, it doesn’t say much about the film, does it? What’s the joy in watching a horror film, if you consistently know what’s going to happen next? To add insult to injury, there is an unnecessary comedy track with erring lipsync starring Brahmanandam — there is an extreme closeup here, god knows why — and a completely redundant song.
Lisaa was promoted as India’s first ‘3D stereoscopic film (Google tells me it’s just a fancy name for a 3D film) with horror elements. And for its modest budget, the film’s 3D was quite all right, even if filled with indulgent ‘look-at-me’ effects. However, I wish it had been a tad more organic — it irks the eye when the perspective you see always includes an object in the foreground or background, just to cash in on the 3D effect.
I quite liked the performances in Lisaa, probably the strongest factor that is in its favour. An effective Anjali is ably supported by Sam Jones, whose vivacity and innocence works well. However, Makarand Deshpande and Saleema, who play the older couple that Lisaa comes to meet, hold the show. They get the eccentricity right. There’s craziness in their eyes and something unusual about the aura they leave. While the twists might seem hackneyed, the performances save the day. Well, they try to, at least.
Lisaa has a message at the end, well-intentioned like most ones in our cinemas are. Again, as most films do, it takes a all-or-nothing perspective, where everything is only black or white. While the message might be relevant, the tropes that are used to drive it through, are definitely not. Maybe, it’s time we interpreted horror films differently and brought themes and context that are actual nightmares in real life. Something similar to what Get Out and Us gave us; or for that matter, something like S Durga, which despite not being a horror film, continues to disturb us upon every single viewing. After all, if we are going to buy into ghosts, why not tackle the ones we face every day?