By Mani Prabhu

Unakenna Venum Sollu, written and directed by debutant Srinath Ramalingam, can be categorized as yet another emotional twist to your old school horror. The core idea behind the film – of an abandoned child, born out of a failed relationship, returning as a spirit is quite intriguing and unsettling. But this idea comes to life in the film so late that by then, we have been treated to tons of horror movie clichés that leave very little impact. With nothing to draw us in and the tone all over the place, almost the entirety of the first half, which should have set up the conflict, is a mess. The intent to make us feel for the estranged couple is fine. But Srinath in executing this intent, attempts to blend two genres – the sentimental drama and the supernatural horror – with marginal success.

Why would you choose to reveal the whole plot, the only suspense element in the film and the climax, when you have two-thirds of your film totally riding on the thrill factor of not able to connect the dots? How much better would it have been, if the film was left to surprise you! But some of the emotional bits do work. Despite the arguable staging, Srinath impresses with the back story.  The ground reality in dealing with life and pregnancy as young adults is showcased, without jumping to judgements or taking sides. But it’s impossible to overlook the absurdity in the portrayal of this frivolous couple, where the husband just walks off from his pregnant wife, without taking the time to explain things and arrives years later expecting to patch up with her. That’s the point, you might say, but how does that make us root for the man? Or should we just let karma get him? With the eight year old girl as the spirit, it’s a different issue. She goes about tormenting the wrong people, without avenging the one responsible for her death! With such confusing stakes, most of the horror set-pieces come across as a mere excuse for some vague pandemonium.

But if you are ready to go into a suspension of disbelief (much more than what is expected out of horror films), there is at least something for you to hold on to, when the final paranormal showdown kicks in. And these are also the portions, where the debutant director scores. After nearly ninety minutes of empty jump scares, the film works best when he dishes out some hardcore supernatural drama towards the climax. The emotional angle also warms up well to the reverse exorcism, and now you see through the director’s vision. If only, the screenplay had spent less time and efforts on fooling around with well-worn horror staples and instead cut to the chase early on, we could have got the film, Srinath intended to make.