Horror Story – Movie Review

Vikram Bhatt’s filmography reads a fascinating mix of thrillers and horror fares. As a matter of fact, the maverick film­maker has delivered several blood curdling, spine chilling horror films that have also worked with those who savor and relish this genre. This week, Vikram serves yet another spooky fare to the spectators ­­- HORROR STORY.

Unlike Vikram’s previous endeavours, HORROR STORY doesn’t have space for romance, skin show and songs. Consequently, and rightly so, the run time is limited to a sharp 1.30 hours, so that the viewer stays focussed. The motive is to create a hardcore scarefest, focusing on seven youngsters and a haunted hotel. Perfect recipe for a horror film, indeed. But does HORROR STORY live up to its title and offer sufficient chills and thrills, let’s find out…

Paranormal phenomenon has a mix of believers and non­believers, as were these seven youngsters. They were friends from their school/college days and were meeting after many years to celebrate. One of them was leaving to pursue his goal and career abroad. The night of their reunion was supposed to be a farewell party, however it turned out to be something else.

A chance news announcement on the telly that was playing at the pub caught their attention which soon resulted in a drunken debate and before they knew it, they were gate­crashing into a hotel that was believed to be haunted. Their objective was to have some fun. Little did they know that this would turn out to be the most horrendous night of their life… rather, the last night of their life!

One fateful night. A haunted hotel. A ghost. Seven youngsters who don’t believe in the paranormal… Director Ayush Raina chooses the desirable ingredients to create a ghostly environ, but the true test lies in frightening the spectator with spine chilling moments. Several Hollywood fares have redefined the genre and the bar for horror films has been upped for this reason. HORROR STORY follows the set pattern, promising to give the audience goosebumps and an edge of the seat experience. Besides, by doing away with the mandatory song and dance routine, Ayush remains firmly focused on the subject material.

The film abounds in scares, shocks and screams, with the viewer clenching his teeth and sticking to the seat at several sequences. There are moments when you are truly terrified thanks to the scary mood and lighting, while the sound plays an integral part in startling the spectator in certain sequences. But what ails most horror films troubles HORROR STORY as well. The ghost goes on a killing spree for no valid reason whatsoever. Also, the re-emergence of the hotel owner in the climax, who had committed suicide, seems abrupt. I mean, if he was so concerned about saving the lives of the innocent, why didn’t he emerge earlier? The minor hiccups notwithstanding, you go with the flow because you get your share of chills and thrills right till the final act. Besides, like I pointed at the outset, the director and the team of writers stay true to the genre of providing a scarefest in those 1.30 hours, which needs to be appreciated.

The background music hits the high notes on varied occasions. Perhaps, it’s premeditated since after an eerie silence, a high-pitched musical note would only startle the spectator, thus enhancing the scare quotient. Cinematography is just perfect. In fact, the lighting of a few sequences, especially the pitch dark ones, deserves mention. The visual effects are appropriate.

The director experiments with new faces in HORROR STORY, since the plot doesn’t demand ‘stars’ or actors who carry the baggage of an image. Yet, there’s not much scope for the new talent to display histrionics here. Karan Kundra [as Neil] is efficient. Ravish Desai [as Mangesh] gets limited scope. Hassan Zaidi [as Samrat] is confident. Nishant Malkani [as Achint] gets his role spot on. Nandini Vaid [as Soniya] is alright. Aparna Bajpai [as Maggie] is perfect. Radhika Menon [as Neena] gets the meatiest role of the lot and does a fine job.

On the whole, HORROR STORY should be liked by horror film buffs and those who relish this genre. Most importantly, it lives up to its promise of providing chills and thrills in those crisp 1.30 hours, which should work with its target audience. Additionally, the low costs should ensure decent profits at the end of the day and help create a franchise in times to come.

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