Balloon: A Predictable Horror Film That Lacks Originality
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Each and every frame in Balloon feels regurgitated. This isn’t even old wine in a new bottle. Debut director Sirish takes exhausted formulas and places them in a screenplay that is laced with bad humor and poor execution. Be it, the offensive and plastered comedy or the predictable and overlong story, Balloon needs a lot of re-working even to be deemed acceptable.
Jeevanandham (Jai) is a struggling director trying to get his big break through a trusted producer. The producer rejects Jeeva’s script and urges him to make a bankable horror film instead. So, with his wife Jacqueline (Anjali), nephew Pappu and two assistants on board, Jeeva sets out to investigate a haunted mansion in the mysterious hills of Ooty. For a while, his investigation goes well but soon, it takes a turn for the worse as his nephew gets possessed. The lengths Jeeva has to go to in order to free his family from the inhabiting spirits form the crux of the film.
From the very beginning the film is packed with clichés. For instance, the very first couple who gets killed in the haunted house steps aside to have an extra marital affair. By now, we are re-introduced to the relentless slut-shaming that has been taking place in most horror movies for decades now. Even if you manage to look past this icky beginning, the film is filled with jokes ridiculing middle aged women, fat women and even actresses at some point. In one particular scene, Yogi Babu stares at a tea shop owner’s wife and says “Only 500 rupees for this old Baghyam?” The film is filled with such offensive jokes. In fact, after a point, the director’s choice to constantly interrupt the story with a plastered comedy track proves to be a great distraction to the story itself.
The happenings in the screenplay lack an organic flow. It is as though the actors are always delivering their lines on cue as they wait for each other to finish speaking. Their mannerisms and dialogue delivery sound almost robotic. The dialogues are poorly written too. In certain scenes the lines pay no attention to timing or situations. They’re merely disjointed and scattered. This layer of artificiality fails to pull you into the central character’s journey.
For a horror film, Balloon barely manages to scare or thrill its audiences. From the overused floating bed scare to ghost in the closet tricks, the film is full of horror elements the audiences have already been exposed to. Horror is one genre where rehashed elements never work. The director’s tendency to recycle the scares he has obtained from other films only goes on to make the film predictable.
The film also takes too long to get to the point. After repetitively establishing the haunted house and the spirits that inhabit it, the film takes two hours to begin narrating the back-story. Paced at two and a half hours, Balloon is stretched beyond recognition.
Two particular plot elements are overused in the film. The first is the use of Balloon as a prop used to signify hauntings. Every time the spirit is present in the frame, balloons fly about everywhere. Every time the spirit takes revenge balloons adorn the corpse. In the end you are bound to leave the theatre with a hatred for balloons. The second cliché is the physical appearance of Jai’s second character Charlie. Just because his name is Charlie, he is made to look exactly like Charlie Chaplin. These clichés point to the lack of imagination and originality in the script. Horror as a genre itself holds the ability to pull crowds. So, wasting this opportunity on rehashed elements and exhausted stories is deeply disappointing.
As Jeeva/Charlie, Jai delivers a mediocre performance. He merely hams his way through the second half. As Jacqueline, Anjali’s portrayal appears to be half-hearted. Many a times, you can actually sense her disinterest. Considering the promising body of work Yogi Babu has produced recently, his involvement and contribution to a stale comedy track in the film is disappointing.
Yuvan Shankar Raja’s music for the film is shockingly ordinary. The background music lacks an element of mystery and the songs too are completely devoid of freshness.
On the whole, Balloon is rehashed entertainment. It is predictable, strenuous and simply unimaginative.