K-13: A Thriller With An Interesting Premise Is Let Down By Ineffective Execution
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Summers and thrillers have become quite synonymous in Tamil Cinema. Sadly though, along with Tamil Nadu’s water scarcity, there has also been a scarcity of engaging thrillers. After GV Prakash’s underwhelming watchman, K-13 joins the list of thrillers that had the potential but lacked the execution to be truly riveting. Here, you have a man trapped in an apartment along with a woman who has been murdered but not by him. Throw in a few anxious and suspecting neighbors and you have all the elements to make this film quite the success. But apart from a few suspenseful moments, there isn’t much in K-13 that drives you to the edge of your seat. This is because of the film’s leisurely pacing, unconvincing climax, and unrelatable character development.
Mathi (Arul Nithi), an introvert by nature and an aspiring filmmaker by profession meets Malar (Shraddha Srinath), a fascinating writer at a bar. After a short conversation, the duo head over to Malar’s apartment. From here, the story jumps to the next morning when a distraught and helpless Mathi finds himself tied to a chair in Malar’s apartment. To make matters worse, he finds her murdered in the same room. Desperate to piece together the happenings of the previous night, an anxiety-ridden Mathi, scouts her entire apartment in search of a clue. Whether or not he discovers the people responsible for her murder and proves his innocence forms the crux of this story.
The film has a good premise, but the problem is with its leisurely pacing and an underwhelming execution. The first thirty minutes of the film tests your patience. Long after you’ve understood the happenings in a scene, you are made to experience a narrative that heavily explains itself. The narrative pacing takes off only after the police force makes an entry into the screenplay and even that pacing slows down in the second half. Right after the interval break till the climax, the film becomes slow, predictable and fails to drive you to the edge of your seat. With fresh ideas and prompt pacing, a good filmmaker can create a lot of tension. But in K-13, even though Mathi is racing against the clock, it never feels like it. Instead, he spends half the time making sure he never leaves his fingerprints anywhere in the apartment. Does this really need to be established in such a long timeline? Taking such a long time to even convey such little things to the audience is why the film never gets to the heart of the story.
One of the second aspects that feel feigned in K-13 is the dialogues. Most of the dialogues are long and unnecessary. Rather than functioning as an element for the audience to understand the proceedings, the dialogues come across as fillers. Even a few key conversations Mathi has with his friends and Malar are terribly delivered and poorly staged. This is also one of the reasons why you never build a connection with the characters in the film. Their background is inconsistent and their dialogues are not relatable, so you never invest your emotions in their journey. So when the time comes for the audience to feel anxious that the central character’s life might be endangered, you don’t care enough to feel the suspense.
K-13 never appears like a satisfying thriller mostly due to a plot twist in the climax. At first, you are surprised but later you aren’t convinced as the twist isn’t backed by enough logic for it to make sense. This is when you realize that the director has not been able to bring alive an efficient script to screen translation. This inefficiency is the reason behind the many logical loopholes in the story.
As Mathi, Arulnithi’s performance is average. This is mainly because of his limitations in expressing emotions. The situation his character finds himself in requires an actor who can properly emote the fear and anxiety that follows without restraint. But one cannot deny the fact that the actor has an eye for selecting interesting scripts. As Malar, Shraddha Srinath is convincing. But her character poses limited scope for acting. Due to the unclear and vague background, her character is assigned, Malar is forgettable despite Shraddha Srinath’s earnest efforts to bring her to life. This is yet another film that casts Yogi Babu for the role of the same awkward and silly comedian. This is also yet another film in which the comedian’s portions don’t work at all. Actors like Gayathrie and Adhik Ravichandran barely appear for a scene or two.
Technically, K-13 is smart and stylish. Aravinnd Singh’s cinematography contributes greatly to building suspense throughout the film. His camera angles and choice of tones are interesting too. Music director Sam C.S has done a great job with the film’s background score. In many stretches, the score heightens the tension leaving the viewers guessing on what could happen next.
On the whole, K-13 is a film with a great premise and greater plot twists. But the potential of this premise is never tapped into because of the ineffective execution that never drives the audience to connect with the plot or its characters.