Ghosty Movie Review: An irreverent, tasteless horror comedy

The film is just a glossy 2-hour product of incoherent and lethargic writing
Ghosty Movie Review: An irreverent, tasteless horror comedy

Early in the film, we are shown the happenings of an old-fashioned asylum. We see patients being less of people and more of caricatures locked in a prison-like setup. If the setting is archaic, the jokes are even older. Veteran comedians and actors fleet in and out of the setup saying the most insensitive dialogues in the name of humour. And knowing the entire film revolved around this asylum only made things worse. 

Director: Kalyaan
Cast: Kajal Aggarwal, Urvashi, KS Ravikumar, Sathyan, Yogi Babu, Jegan, Redin Kingsley
Star 1.5

Let me try to make sense of this convoluted mess of a screenplay. Let me try... Police officer Arthi (Kajal Aggarwal) is facing suspension because she behaves weirdly. She is disturbed by aspiring filmmakers Yogi Babu, Jegan and Redin Kingsley. Let's leave this angle for now. Then, we have a random flashback where Arthi and her fellow officers — played by Sathyan and Urvashi — are out to arrest Das (KS Ravikumar), who has escaped from prison. We learn that Arthi's father was the one who put Das behind bars. There are two oaths taken that day. One, Arthi asserts that she will arrest him again, and two, Das will kill her dad's colleagues. Once again, let's leave this angle for now. Arthi is also disturbed by an eerie doll, which randomly finds its way into her house. Now, let's leave this angle too, and yeah, there's Jai in a cameo, playing the nalla aathma, who invariably becomes the saviour. Of course, a police officer needs a male saviour, even if it is from the other world. 

The film is billed as a horror comedy, and it uses age-old tropes like randomly flickering lights, randomly found dead bodies, randomly grotesque dolls, randomly loud background score (Sam CS) and of course... randomly shutting doors to establish the horror part. For the comedy part, watching sluggish set pieces with unflattering payoffs, and Kajal, painted with a clown face, trying to make us laugh out loud, only elicits a faint sigh that is a reflection of our exasperation. But, points to the makers for constantly exhausting the audience with both its horror and comedy. 

The ensemble cast, which boasts of talents like the late Mayilsamy, KS Ravikumar, Urvashi, Madhan Bob, and Devadharshini among others is criminally underutilised. The attempts to make us laugh fail miserably. For instance, in a scene when a nighty-clad Aadhi (Urvashi) huffs and puffs in to arrest an escaping Das, he asks her, "Ena Ungala Rape Pana porangala?" And in an exorcism scene when Aadhi's plan does not work well, Arthi says, "Order 2 litres of acid to pour on your face." It is 2023. It was not funny in 1993, 2003, and 2013 either. I repeat, these tasteless and callous gags are unfunny. They always were. 

Films like Ghosty remind us that it is high time we stop stigmatising mental hospitals and their patients. The irreverent stereotyping of people with mental health problems needs to be called out, especially with society trying to normalise such conversations. More importantly, it is just lazy writing to pluck these low-hanging fruits and still just make shoddy jokes around such sensitive topics. Responsible filmmaking, adequate research and situational awareness is the need of the hour. The film is just a glossy 2-hour product of incoherent and lethargic writing. 

Apart from Kajal's charming screen presence, there is very little that goes her way in Ghosty. In a passing moment, Yogi Babu's character comments about their potential heroine not having a proper lipsync. And watching Ghosty, this joke just hits too close to home. Walking out of Ghosty, which decided to portray most of its characters as fools, I wondered if the makers assumed its audience to be one too.

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