Review Malayalam

Chuzhal review: This atmospheric suspense drama simmers with an uneasiness

Release Date: 17 Jul 2021

Cinestaan Rating

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Suyog Zore

Chuzhal is an engaging film that builds slowly towards a powerful climax that also delivers an important message.

Biju Maani's Chuzhal is a tense, elegantly shot suspense drama that slowly builds towards a powerful climax that will linger in your mind for quite some time. However, the writer-director's refusal to offer logical reasons at certain crucial moments robs the viewer of a sense of fulfilment.

The film opens with five friends — Neelu (RJ Nilja), Nidheesh (Sanju Prabhakaran), Abin (Abin Mary), Rajeev (Gazal Ahamed) and Joy (Srinath Gopinath) — crammed in a small car going up a winding mountain road. They are going to attend a wedding and are already late. Lost in their constant bickering, they almost get hit by a Jeep.

It is a sign of things to come. On the way back from the function, the group decides to make a pit stop for the night to avoid having another near-death experience. On the lookout for a suitable place to spend a few hours, they meet an elderly man (Jaffar Idukki) who takes them to a villa on top of a small hill, which gives a beautiful view of the town.

It is the ideal location for things to take a turn for the worse, and they do. Neelu and Nidheesh start to experience an undefined presence in the villa and soon the reunion of five friends takes a series of ghoulish turns leaving all of them perplexed.

Chuzhal deals with the disconcerting effect of sudden events. Set almost entirely within the confines of a car and then a villa, the film is a slow burner which begins as a road movie, with lively conversation among friends, only to turn into a spooky horror show.

Biju Maani's careful and increasingly tight handling of the material keeps you on edge even when things haven't yet gone from bad to worse. He keeps the viewer engaged with the banter among the friends. Slowly you get to know everyone and their equations with one another.

Biju and cinematographer Sajid Nazar create an atmosphere of dread by keeping the viewer in the dark, though after a point it starts to feel repetitive. Also, the writer-director's steadfast refusal to provide logical reasoning for certain events adds to the sense of confusion in the viewer. However, there is still sufficient payoff with a memorable climax that also delivers an important message on road rage. The powerful climax also negates to an extent the effect of the unexplained scenes.

The original background score by Hesham Abdul Wahab plays an important role in creating a tense, suspenseful atmosphere. The score draws you into the confused state of the youngsters as they struggle to make sense of what is going on. All the artistes have done a good job, especially Jaffar, who leaves a mark with his small but significant role.

Overall, Chuzhal is an engaging film that weaves together horror and road rage to give us an atmospheric, suspenseful drama.

Chuzhal is now available on the Neestream platform.

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