Why are Horror movies enjoyable? It has been argued that the horror genre exploits the collective existential (or irrational) fears of the society. Take Steven Spielberg’s Jaws: the shark that attacks the small white town stands in for a number of fears; of migrants, of economic instability and so on.
Mysskin’s Pisasu, is also horror film, but with a twist. The ghost in this film doesn’t represent our collective fears but our collective failures to ensure fairness in the society. The ghost interferes to change what we refer to as decadence: lying; thievery; violence against women and so on.
Pisasu begins with a curious twist: a ghost of a girl haunts a young guy (Naga) in his twenties who has actually tried to save a girl fighting for her life after meeting with a road accident.
The film unfolds conventionally, in which the protagonist desperately tries to get rid of the ghost. Until the midpoint of the film, Mysskin packs the narrative with long sequences, nudging the audience to anticipate the grotesque image of the ghost and occasionally delivering it to the audience. He does the basic things well. He heightens the tension – in anticipation of the ghost –by manipulating the music: the shots are devoid of music until the ghost appears and hits the high notes thereafter. While the ghost constantly interferes in the life of the protagonist and appears to him as though it might hurt his loved ones, we are shown that the ghost is good.
In the second half, however, the film becomes a murder mystery. The story of the ghost, who was named Bhavani in her real life, unfolds, revealing that her father (played by Radha Ravi) is waiting to exact revenge for his daughter’s death.
It suddenly turns into a murder mystery as the protagonist becomes active and pieces together the events leading up to her death just so that he can find out the man who killed her. The final half hour is packed with startling images and poignant moments between the Father, the protagonist and the Ghost, problematising notion of compassion, justice and testing the very limits of forgiveness.
On top of everything, the most important takeaway from this film is this: it is still possible to make a good film with barely 10 characters and a shoestring budget if you have the will to do it.
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