AVAL (2017)

Critic - No.132
Director: Milind Raju
Casts: Siddarth, Andrea Jeremiah, Suresh, Atul Kalkarni, Anisha
Music: Girishh
Language: Tamil
Genre: Horror

Dr Krishna (Siddharth), a successful brain surgeon and his wife Lakshmi (Andrea Jeremiah), live peacefully in their beautiful house under the mountains. Their perfect life is disrupted after a family moves into the house next door.

In a time where, Kollywood is dominated by template driven horror comedy films, ‘Aval’ has broken the dry ground through a solid, sleek supernatural thriller boasts with technical finesse. Right from the starting epilogue, the film feels and sounds like a film outside India. The main reason for this is its heavy influence of successful Hollywood films. That doesn’t mean that ‘Aval’ copies them but instead it draws influences from them and presents it with its own flavour and novel plot. The plot might not be completely original but the treatment and screenplay will keep the audience at the edge of their seats. The idea of ‘God vs Antichrist’ is something new to the region and the film maker has projected that with great impact.

After films like ‘Yaavarum Nalam (2009)’ and ‘Eeram (2009)’, ‘Aval’ has pushed the boundaries of horror films in India with scares that not very typical. Every scene in the film serves as a puzzle and no moments are placed unnecessarily. The story is focused and progressively moves on with several chilling moments that stabs the senses the audience quite deeply. It doesn’t shy away from steamy intimate scenes or gory visuals. Milind has treated the film with keeping in mind the taste of not only Indian audiences but also worldwide horror fans. With 7 primary characters, ‘Aval’ utilizes each one of them to move the plot without just focusing on the main leads. The subtle humour derived from the cute possessiveness track of Andrea, Siddarth and Anisha, gels well with the character development that pays off at the end. Siddarth and Andrea’s chemistry is spot on while debutant Anisha sets off a flying start with her physically demanding role. Other supporting characters such as Suresh and Atul Kalkarni have delivered a seasoned performance.

Technically arresting, Aval’s innovative camera placements, especially during the underwater scene and exorcism scene, will immerse the audiences into the cinematic world instantly. Not forgetting the elaborate art direction that played a very vital role in constructing the fear spaces on screen intelligently. Background score by Girishh, compliments the international flavour of the narrative. Even for the Chinese flashback scenes, the composer changes accurately, attempting to paint that culture with his sounds. The detailed sound editing and mixing, injects live into the jump scares, demonic anarchy and exorcism scenes. The CGI is not perfect but with a well crafted tension, they do not affect the experience. 

On the flipside, the film’s emotional backing and the final twist look a little contrived. The message about child sacrifice that the film make projects, looks a bit out of place. Given the  excellent pace and suspense, one might not connect fully with the pay off. Nevertheless, ‘Aval’ is a definite game changer for horror films in Kollywood.

Debutant Milind Raju delivers a tightly knit horror film that pushes boundaries in its region by limiting genre conventions and projecting imaginative scares.



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