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Posted at: Nov 10, 2017, 5:50 PM; last updated: Nov 10, 2017, 5:50 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW: THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR

Horror at its best


Film: The House Next Door

  • Cast: Siddharth, Andrea Jeremiah, Atul Kulkarni
  • Director: Milind Rau
Horror at its best
The House Next Door

Johnson Thomas

A happily married couple comes face-to-face with paranormal occurrences when a new family moves into their neighbourhood, in the picturesque Himalayan region of a fictitious Silent valley.

This rare, genuine Indian horror film experience simultaneously made in Tamil (Aval), Telugu (Gruham) and Hindi, is a wonderfully mounted effort from Milind Rau, who has also co-written the script. No doubt that this film borrows heavily from Japanese and Hollywood flicks, but the manner in which Rau has made that schlock imagery and tricks his own, is what really counts here.

The film opens to some found footage of a Chinese family, where the mother and daughter appear to be bonding well until the father steps into the picture. There’s some talk of a total solar eclipse on TV and the camera then hones into present day, on the lovey-dovey young couple, flipping through their courtship days to their present idyllic life surrounded by misty mountains, astounding natural beauty and a job as brain surgeon, that the husband, Krish (Siddharth), loves so much.

The Himalyan background is so idyllic and stunning that you wouldn’t think anything could be-spook it. The minute the new neighbours move in and get friendly with the young couple, the spooks start building up. The pace is guilefully entreating. The background score may be a little over-enthusiastically overwrought, but it’s not the suddenly clanging kind. There’s a method to this madness and it all envelopes you slowly.

There are eastern and western influences at play here. Psychiatry, tantra, exorcism, Christianity and tribal beliefs are compounded together to allow for broader emphasis on supernatural belief systems. As the possession expands, the affected families give them all a chance, but eventually it is love and support that strengthens the belief systems and helps the affected cope with the ensuing trauma.  There are no haunting songs to nudge the narrative along, so it’s all up to the actors, the pacing and the timely introduction of genuinely spooky moments to keep you ensnared in the meticulously arranged plot. 

The natural performances from Siddharth, Andrea Jeremiah, Atul Kulkarni, Anisha Victor and the rest of the ensemble cast are a treat to watch. Each of them plays their part so well that we start believing in the hocus-pocus, even when our rational minds are bringing up arguments to discount it. The runtime may be a little too long and the plotting somewhat convoluted, but there’s no denying that this is the grittiest and scariest horror flick ever made by an Indian! 


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