Boomika Movie Review: A taut horror drama with some interesting ideas
Some interesting ideas and writing set Boomika apart from many run-of-the-mill horror films that Kollywood has churned out in the recent past
At the outset, there is nothing particularly original about director Rathindran's Boomika. It is largely a genre film and brings in the familiar ‘abandoned house’ horror trope. With its well-intentioned eco-activism, Boomika is also reminiscent of its production house Stone Bench’s previous venture, Mercury. Though they differ in narrative and tone, the intentions—about conserving nature, about holding humans accountable—are cut from the same cloth. In delivering the 'message', Boomika seems to fare better than Karthik Subbaraj’s silent film. The problem is more pronounced (note the word ‘boomi’ in the title) here, and not just as subtext as it was in Mercury. Despite employing tested tools of the horror genre, Rathindran, who has also written the film, manages to whip up an engaging, intriguing film.
Director: Rathindran R Prasad
Cast: Aishwarya Rajesh, Vidhu, Avantika Vandanapu, Surya Ganapathi, Madhuri, Pavel Navageethan
Streaming platform: Netflix (from August 23)
Gowtham (Vidhu), acquires a huge deal to renovate an abandoned building in the interiors of Ooty. Samyuktha (Aishwarya Rajesh), a psychologist, is a supportive wife who is seemingly passive about her husband’s ambitious project. Vidhu ropes in his affluent childhood buddy and eco-friendly architect Gayathri (Surya Ganapathi) to the project as her 'eco-activism’ tag comes in handy to get things done. The three along with Vidhu’s anxious sister Aditi (Madhuri) spend a night at the abandoned campus. They just have one assistant Dharman (Pavel Navageethan) to run errands, which is mostly maintaining the power generator that gives up at crucial junctions. In a span of one night, things turn eerie when Gayathri starts getting messages from Vidhu’s recently deceased friend.
The pace at which things escalate helps keep you hooked to the proceedings. The denial phase that the characters go through in such horror films is often short-lived, and it’s the same here, with characters not being allowed the time to make up their mind about the irrationality of the events. The danger is immediate and imminent. Admirably though, despite achieving a lot in the first thirty minutes of the film, Rathindran doesn’t run out of ideas. He also doesn’t take the easy route of ‘jump scares’. Instead, he puts in the effort to establish build-up for such scares, aided also by Prithvi Chandrasekhar’s adequate background score.
The characters in Boomika come across as well-rounded people rather than cardboard cutouts that the ghost can happily knock about. Pavel Navageethan’s Dharman was my favourite. His accent and resourcefulness make him an affable presence, around whom other characters feel safe. It was also a mild surprise to watch what the director does with Aishwarya Rajesh’s Samyuktha. We expect her to fit the usual survivor trope, but Rathindran has some interesting ideas. Such writing does set Boomika apart from many a run-of-the-mill horror film that Kollywood has churned out.
On the other hand, there are some disappointments too. We are never really motivated enough to care for the lives at stake; even the ghost seems so compassionate as to stop us truly worrying about its fury. In many instances in the second half, the expositions are a bit too blatant too. And then, there is the ubiquitous flashback that is now such a staple that we know exactly what its purpose is. And there’s a lot of convenient writing too, with characters unravelling mysteries without any real challenge. Every time they dig into the haystack, they find the needle. As the film ended, it invoked similar thoughts as this director’s segment in Navarasa did. Both films may be far from being perfect, but there’s definite ambition. And despite flaws, you can’t shake off the notion that Rathindran seems like an interesting filmmaker.