Dhayam: An Empty Thriller That Makes Too Much Noise
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Halfway into debut director Kannan Rangaswamy’s Dhayam, an electronic night vision display is seen working even though it’s unplugged. If you think this little mishap is bad, you have no idea what you’re in store for. Dhayam’s screenplay and staging resembles that of an embarrassing early short film you made and secretly wished had never seen the light of day.
Set completely within the four walls of a room, Dhayam’s plot revolves around eight applicants who are called-in for an unconventional interview at a mysteriously eerie firm. The conditions of their interview are simple; the one professional who survives and leaves the haunted interview room after an hour with their sanity intact will officially take over as the company’s CEO. As their deadly test of survival begins, a test of your patience commences as well.
Kannan Rangaswamy’s proposition to tell a story within the four walls of a room has to be applauded. Unfortunately, though, the story he chooses to tell and the amateur staging used to support it does irreversible damage to his demanding scheme.
Right from the very beginning, everything seems to go wrong. For one, the sound design is unbearably loud. Such an imbalance makes it seem as though the characters are literally screaming their lines. As if the lingering noise isn’t enough, the constantly changing camera angles make it hard for you to focus on the happenings of the plot. Once you’re used to the distorted angles, you notice that the actors are either too theatrical or under-performers. They either deliver their dialogues too late or over-react to a little twist. For every emotion the characters essay, sounds of laughter and weeping constantly make their way into your ears, making it all the more difficult for you to sit through the film.
Even if you manage to look past such pathetic technicalities, the screenplay and dialogues are unbelievably dull. Rangaswamy gives every character a monolog, which could work in a different genre but such lengthy and dull dialogues in a thriller, only kill the mood.
The various elements placed to induce thrills fail miserably. A threatening letter isn’t nearly threatening, the ghost is not at all frightening, and the effects are deafening, not fearing.
Good thrillers have great conflict, take Yavarum Nalam for example. The film isn’t set on a mighty budget, but it still has enough substance to scare you out of your wits. The conflict in Yavarum Nalam is convincing and threatening. If Kannan Rangaswamy had taken inspiration from such films, he could have derived a better conflict for this empty script.
The music and cinematography are the most terrible aspects of Dhayam. Sathish Selvam’s background score and songs are deafeningly loud and lack true intensity. A.Packiraj’s distorted angles and blind tonal sensibilities are appalling.
On the whole, Dhayam is a poorly staged thriller equipped with equally poor technicalities. Maybe if the director’s ambition was driven by a well-thought out story, the film could’ve worked better.