Web Series Movies

‘Kannamoochi’ review: Too convenient for horror and too convoluted for a thriller

A screengrab from ‘Kannamoochi’

A screengrab from ‘Kannamoochi’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The web series alters between horror and thriller for the most part and gets clueless beyond a point about its own proceedings

(Spoilers ahead)

Given the number of abysmal content — at least from the ones I have watched so far — being uploaded on OTT platforms in the name of web series, it is fair to conclude that Tamil filmmakers haven’t figured out a way to work around the format. Also given the number of preposterous web series available in Tamil, you tend to appreciate every little effort shown by the filmmaker to break the content clutter. Like the brilliantly-executed stretch that comes towards the fag end of Episode One of Kannamoochi.

It is a Holy Week procession that reconstructs the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We see Christ struggling to carry the cross (read: weight of mankind) and is whipped and lashed by men who, we believe, are Roman soldiers in this context. The visual tone seems to suggest that it is dreamy, with Sundaramurthy KS’ single note score aiding this effect. The Passion of the Christ, if one were to call it that, is intercut with an image of Satan, laughing and mocking at the procession.

This is where Priya’s (Poorna, playing Poorna) five-year-old daughter Aishwarya goes missing. The scene does not just end there. Priya’s search for her daughter goes in vain and she finds herself caught in the middle of Jesus Christ and Satan — as if she has been pawned off in a war between gods and demons. It is brilliant for two reasons. For one, it is an unusual way of setting up the tension for a simple case of Gone Girl, even for a web series. And two, the sequence seems allegorical to the larger point of Kannamoochi: sins and sinners. But this Church procession, as Priya calls it, is the only rewarding quality of Kannamoochi, which is too convenient for horror and too convoluted for a thriller.

Priya moves into a luxury apartment with her daughter, who is speech-impaired. She is a single mother and an IT employee — only this much we know of her and only this much Poorna is given on paper. She is left to take care of the family when her husband (who comes across as a loving man) passes away due to pancreatic cancer. There is a huge portrait of her husband in the house. His eyes peer into the room, as if he is still the guiding light of the family. But the series has nothing to do with Priya or her husband, but Aishwarya. The mother-daughter duo lives on the ninth floor. But whenever they take the elevator, it stops at the sixth floor almost by design. In other words, this is Tamil cinema’s way of writing whoo... so scary… stuff. These initial scenes are seriously off-putting, given how lame they are — both in terms of the shock factor and staging (side note: If you cannot get actors/dubbing artistes to speak English with a fake urban accent, kindly refrain from going to the remarkable extent of writing dialogues in English, for ‘urbane’ characters).

Kannamoochi
  • Cast: Poorna, Vivek Prasanna, Amzath Khan and Bose Venkat
  • Director: Avinaash Hariharan
  • Genre: Horror-thriller

But Kannamoochi gets moderately interesting when Aishwarya goes missing. She is not the first one to go missing. When all hope is lost, Priya chances upon a mysterious girl with an Anniyan haircut. She knows where Aishwarya is, but would only disclose the location if and when Priya plays a game of kannamochi (hide and seek). She forces Priya to recite the kannamochi song: “Kannamoochi re re, kandupidi yaaru... arakan vaaran pathuko.” Priya’s quest, is to find that Arakan or Satan. If you have not yawned already, we are still at Episode Two and have three more to go. You sense a familiarity when the spirit of a child appears. You expect the series to traverse a known path, but it takes the Yaavarum Nalam route, to establish the case of a missing family and justice for the sins committed. The sinner here is a paedophile and let us call him Mr R.

Written by Aadthiya GR (Mysskin’s brother), Kannamoochi can be seen as a companion piece to Psycho, which also dealt with an Arakan in the form of a psychopath. Psycho ruminates on morality and justice, and portrayed the killer with a sympathetic gaze. There, it was about a woman leading a psychopath to the path of salvation. Here, it is about a woman who leaves no room for such thoughts and wants to vanquish the sinner altogether. Like Psycho, there is a climax ritual where Priya unearths the Chamber of Secrets. Again, it is a good construct but offers very little beyond the obvious.

It is hard to not think of Mindhunter while watching Kannamoochi, for you could hear Avinaash Hariharan screaming that he is a David Fincher fan and has binged on the show. Of course, the series bears no similarities to Fincher’s masterpiece, but pays a fanboy hat-tip to Mindhunter by its design — pay attention to the opening credits. Every episode begins with a two-minute preface about an insignificant (and impotent?) man showing paedophilic characteristics — which might seem inconsequential at first but has an effective pay-off in the end, when Avinaash knits the various events together. But unlike Mindhunter, which was far superior, far serious and far procedural, the idea for Kannamoochi rests heavily on the subject matter and does not go beyond that.

Nevertheless, Avinaash keeps the spirit of the series intact. I liked the gag between Priya and her husband when the former says, “If you can’t help your wife, you have to ‘help’ yourself.” I also liked the cheeky comment that Mr R makes when a little girl is chided for messing up the room. He instinctively says, “It’s our mess. We’ll clean it,” with a grin on his face. I laughed when Mr R sang ‘You’re my Honeybunch’ in the climax ritual. The problem with Kannamoochi is that it treats the psychopath too apologetically, reducing him to a piece of textual information. I wished it had been more explicit than being suggestive.

Kannamoochi is currently streaming on Zee5

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 2:55:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/kannamoochi-web-series-review/article31207597.ece

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