A large, deserted household, toys that frighten you out of your wits, ringtones that forebode ill, spirits that scream at you from nowhere — the U/A certification for Pizza is justified. But when nearly 40 minutes of the film is spent in scaring the hero and the viewer, eeriness touches ridiculous levels. Thankfully, that’s the midpoint in the film. You take a breather and gear yourself up for a dampener of a second half, and that’s when first-time director Karthik Subburaj springs a surprise — a twist that catches you unawares. How is the maker going to untie the story tangled in knots, you wonder! But he manages it quite well. And the final shot that dovetails into another fresh intrigue is a different stroke from Subburaj! Is he planning a sequel?

“Each of us has a weakness — wine, women, wealth and probably, witchcraft,” says the heroine. That in essence is the story. Incidentally, intelligent dialogue is a noteworthy aspect of Pizza.

Both literally and figuratively, the title is relevant. It’s the screenplay that doesn’t render much help. And that’s why you feel restless in the first hour or so of Pizza. How long do you keep watching the hero running helplessly from one room to another in the darkness of a lone house? Also, you don’t quite understand how Michael (Vijay Sethupathi) manages to convince his boss about why he actually entered a deserted home!

By the way, how many of us would let a pizza delivery boy into the house while we go in to fetch the money for it? The credulity of such characters is unbelievable.

Vijay Sethupathi, who was convincing in the role of a rustic hero in Thenmaerkku Paruvakaatru and a small town guy in Sasikumar’s Sundara Pandian, returns to play a pizza delivery boy this time. Natural underplay that has been noticeable in his acting, comes to the fore in Pizza too. Fear, love, slyness — it’s an authentic display of emotions by Sethupathi.

As for Ramya Nambessan, she emerges in casual outfits for the first time (even in Kullanari Kootam she had stuck to the sober salwar kameez) and pulls off the part of an aspiring storywriter with an ace up her sleeve. Her screen space isn’t much, but she does justice in the time given. Ramya could have been utilised more.

Among the supporting cast, Jayakumar’s spontaneity, as a colleague and friend of the hero, deserves special mention. If you enter the cinemas expecting a desi version of the Paranormal Activity franchise, because of the promos of a young couple with a scared expression, you are mistaken. Twenty minutes into the film and you decide clichéd, beaten-to-pulp occultism is going to be its mainstay, it isn’t so. Soon you settle down for a ‘spirited’ thriller, you are wrong again. At some point, you presume romance will be served in ample doses, you find your guess erroneous. And during the intermission, you resign yourself to a trying experience of the usual horror stuff, you realise you aren’t spot on.

The second half of Pizza has a reasonably enjoyable tanginess, but to get to that you have to sit through the protraction of the first.