Mumbai, 14 May 2021 21:04 IST
Unnecessary subplots, poor screenplay and underdeveloped characters make this web-series a bore.
The Last Hour, Amazon Prime Video's latest offering in the rarely explored supernatural thriller genre, has everything going for it — a picturesque town that provides the perfect backdrop for this kind of fare, a talented cast, and an intriguing premise. Everything, that is, but the engaging screenplay that was required to bind it all together.
The Last Hour, directed and co-written by Amit Kumar, director of the critically acclaimed Monsoon Shootout (2017), is set in a fictitious town somewhere in northeastern India. Arup (Sanjay Kapoor), a recently widowed police officer, has just been transferred from Mumbai to this idyllic town surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
Arup is accompanied by his teenage daughter Pari (Shaylee Krishen), who still hasn't come to terms with her mother's death. Arup is assured by his senior officer that he will have a lot of free time because there is hardly any crime to solve in this peaceful town. In the last five years, there have been only three murders in the region.
But as Arup begins his duty, the murder of a Bengali actress on a hiking trail puts paid to his plan to spend some quality time with his daughter and repair their troubled relationship.
During his investigation, Arup comes in contact with a jhakri (shaman) called Dev (Karma Takapa). Dev supposedly can communicate with the souls of the recently departed and see their last living hour (hence the title).
Initially dismissive of Dev's powers, Arup finally enlists his help after he realizes that he is the key player to solve the mystery of the murder. There is also an arch-villain Yama Nadu (Robin Tamang) who is after Dev's powers.
To complicate matters further, Dev and Pari develop affection for each other unbeknown to Arup, who also seems to be having romantic feelings towards his subordinate, local police officer Lipika (Shahana Goswami).
The snow-capped mountains, winding roads and dense forests covered in mist provide the perfect backdrop for this atmospheric supernatural thriller, but the show itself is confusing and often illogical while the silly romantic subplots and one-dimensional characters ruin what could have been a trendsetting show in the Indian OTT space.
The sluggish pace and lack of suspense kill whatever little thrill the series has to offer. The eight-episode web-series clocking a runtime of almost five hours is littered with unnecessary subplots and long-drawn-out sequences. The show also tries to highlight how the rest of India discriminates against the people of the Northeast, but it feels forced and more like tokenism.
The characters are unconvincing and so are their treatment and actions. Dev roams around as if he had already achieved moksha. Nothing affects him, be it his brother's death or seeing his lady love battling death.
The romantic subplot of Dev and Pari feels forced and has no logic. They first meet when he prevents her from taking her life. Jhakris are apparently forbidden to leave the side of a soul during its last hour; if they go far from the soul, they run the risk of death. But for some reason Dev just can't control himself drifting from his 'purpose' and following Pari, a girl he barely knows, putting his own life at risk several times.
Pari is easily the most poorly written character of the show. She wants to find out how her mother died but makes no effort. Instead, she spends her time partying with her new collegemates. She is haunted by a voice which keeps telling her to do terrible things, including killing herself. But the show never cares to explain why she is hearing this voice, or whether there is any connection between the voice and the murders in the town. It doesn't help that Shaylee Krishen plays just one note throughout the show and fails to convey her character’s turmoil.
Sanjay Kapoor delivers a measured performance as a father who is trying to rebuild trust with his daughter and a cop who is trying to solve a case that is beyond his imagination.
Despite her limited screen time, Shahana Goswami is easily the best performer of the lot. Lipika is a single mother who starts to develop feelings for her new boss and Goswami portrays the conflicted emotions of her character well. Robin Tamang's cartoonish villain Yama Nadu seems to be directly lifted from those B-grade horror movies of the 1980s. And except for the token momo counters and noodle bars, the show never quite explores the culture of the Northeast.
With fewer subplots, better-written characters and better acting, The Last Hour could have been an engaging supernatural thriller. The show concludes with a rushed climax that ends in a cliffhanger promising a second season. One only hopes it will provide answers to the questions left hanging in the first one.
The Last Hour is now available on Amazon Prime Video.
Related topicsAmazon Prime Video
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