Dec 18 2017


Published by at 10:47 pm under Review,Tamil Cinema


Barring the occasional Yaavarum Nalam, Tamil cinema has been starved of films in the pure horror genre, with comedy-horror – with an unequal emphasis on comedy – dominating the scene. So Aval, a true blue horror film, is a welcome change. Though not very scary, especially if Hollywood and Asian horror movies are a regular part of your movie diet, it has its share of scares and spooky moments since it takes horror seriously.

Dr. Krishna(Siddharth) is a neuro surgeon who does deep brain stimulation(it is a fantastic line of the profession for a horror movie as the intricate maneuvering inside the brain really ups the suspense during a couple of his later operating sessions). The film does a nice job of showing him and his wife Lakshmi(Andrea) as a young couple in love with a nice montage of shots to show their past romance(his first meeting with her parents is hilarious) and the spontaneous passion between them. Lakshmi’s reactions to the obvious crush their neighbor Jenny(Anisha) has on Krishna, starting with the different ways she addresses Krishna and Lakshmi, are very cute and funny.

The film takes an ominous turn with Jenny’s visions and actions in her house. Care has been taken to differentiate the visions from the typical white-skinned, dark-eyed figures we see in all the horror-comedies. So these are creepy enough and the skillful direction, art direction and background score work well in unison to make many of their appearances function as effective Boo moments. It soon becomes clear that the film is a haunted house flick but the usual question about why the inhabitants don’t simply leave the house is answered early enough(a second explanation is offered later when the first one begins to sound weak). The suspense is built up well as the images become scarier and more frequent and a fake exorcism,¬†where we learn if the happenings are real or a figment of Jenny’s imagination, is staged very well.

We know a bit about the house’s history thanks to a deceptively gentle prologue with a Chinese woman and her daughter but the screenplay does well to hide the exact nature of the link until it is explicitly revealed. The full story when revealed(this part feels a little too convenient), is very disturbing and unsettling. It leads well into some good surprises that the movie has in store and also nicely explains many of the things until then. As in most horror movies, the film also ends with a shot that points to more ominous things in the future.

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Aval”

  1. Prakash Rao says:

    Had read about this in some Siddharth interview, but hadn’t seen any reviews nor heard about it elsewhere. Glad you reviewed it, else wouldn’t have bothered with this.

    I find most horror films boring, but liked Yaavarum Nalam as well. So this one’s on my list now. Hopefully gets released in TK soon.

    Kudos to Siddharth. He continues to go off the beaten path. Kinda like Vijay Sethupathy but without the same box office results, so should we call him VS-lite? :)

  2. Reza says:

    The flaw i find with many good directors n new directors is the energy missing in the 2nd half. Aval too finds this flaw. We fet a superb edge of the seat 1st half and the 2nd half is all dissapointing due to poor execution, screenplay dragging n a weak climax. Theeram adgigaram ondra, mayavan, aval, spyder, kutram 23 are example.

    Yavarum nalam without doubt the best horror film ive ever seen bcas the screenplay doesnt drag n there is no dull moments.

  3. karthik says:

    I saw this movie in Kumbakonam and had an interesting experience ! This movie is rated ‘A’ and as usual saw bunch of kids in the theater including a little girl seated next to me with her Dad. During the first romantic scene , suddenly the area around me light up like Xmas tree ! Basically all the Dads/Moms were trying to distract their kids from seeing ‘romance’ on the screen by showing something on their smartphones !! On top of that the Dad of the little girl put helmet on her head !!! This repeated for every romantic scene !

    As for the movie, first half worked for me and 2nd half was a let down.

  4. Prakash Rao says:

    Karthik, LOL.

    I get mad at the lack of judgment by such parents. But I guess movies are the only form of entertainment for some. They don’t have the luxury of leaving kids behind and don’t want to sacrifice their source of entertainment. To each their own …

  5. Balaji says:

    Prakash, I was really getting tired of the horror-comedy movies that all followed the same template. I think Yaamirukka Bayamey was the only one I liked and it was one of the first few in the genre. So Aval was a good change and the fact that it was well-made was icing on the cake!

    Reza, yeah the directors build the screenplay well towards the intermission and most movies have a good interval block. But they aren’t able to recreate the same build-up in the 2nd half. Though among the movies you mentioned, I thought Theeran and Aval did a much better job than Spyder & Kuttram 23.

    karthik, that was hilarious. I had a good laugh with the image of the little girl with the helmet on her head :) I guess this is the modern equivalent of the “picking up the coins” idea Bagyaraj used in Dhavani Kanavugal!

  6. Jordan says:

    I enjoyed this movie. Interesting plot, good performances (esp from Anisha Victor who scared me during that pre-interval scene), and the film looked nice. The back story with the Chinese guy was disturbing, yes. Couldn’t get some shots out of my head shortly after the movie, but I guess that’s the director’s success.

    Btw, Karthik, given Sid-Andrea’s multiple kisses, poor little girl would’ve had her helmet on for the whole film! But on a serious note, like the fact that the film did not have any double meaning or misogynist jokes, now that’s cringe worthy.