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‘Typewriter’ review: kid-friendly fonts of fear

‘Typewriter’: Our very own desi version of ‘Stranger Things’?

‘Typewriter’: Our very own desi version of ‘Stranger Things’?   | Photo Credit: Netflix

Sufficiently creepy to start with, the Netflix series gets unwieldy in the later episodes

About five years ago, a question on Reddit, “What is the best horror story you can come up with in two sentences?” led many of us to a scary tale by Juan J Ruiz about a father tucking his son into bed and the little one complaining about a monster under it. I won’t tell you more lest your viewing pleasure gets spoilt, but the terribly tiny tale was later also turned into a short film (available on YouTube) called Tuck Me In. The first season of Sujoy Ghosh’s Netflix series Typewriter, kicks off chillingly with this creepypasta.

It also holds the key to the series’ interesting central conceit — about how both good and evil can reside in one person, or to flip it the other way round, how good and evil can fragment one whole human being into parts; until she or he decides to opt for a singular course ahead.

In the sleepy and susegad-hit Bardez in Goa, three school kids and their beloved dog seem to be the only hyperactive souls around. Members of a self-formed ghost club, their dream is to see and nab one for real. There is a haunted Bardez Villa close at hand that promises to set things off in motion, when a family of four shifts from Mumbai and lets the ghost out of a storage carton, so to speak.

The first couple of episodes are tight and pacy with a menacing mood, way-out characters, inexplicable happenings, gory killings, a ghost-written book and an old typewriter ticking away disturbingly, adding to a lurking fear. The tools are very conventional yet sufficiently creepy.

In the setting up of the ghostliness, the audience is not privy to a lot which is what make the stabs of fear delectable at those sinister moment. The why and how remain tantalisingly unanswered as we are gradually led to the heart of darkness. Call me weak-hearted, but I must make an honest confession here: while watching the early bits of the show late night in an empty office, I did get a jump scare and missed a few heartbeats when a colleague suddenly knocked on the cabin door. However, as I made my way further into the episodes, things began to flounder.

Soon enough explanations pile on, past gets dredged out, revenge motif laid out, bonds between seemingly disconnected people are established by joining the many dots and mythology gets mixed with mumbo-jumbo on a blood-moon night in a clumsy finale. In the process the narrative gets unwieldy. Why weave in a subplot, which has to do with the marriage of the Bardez Villa couple? It feels needless... but then there is the possibility of the second seasonahead where it’s likely to get fleshed out.

Ghosh has a way with creating inscrutable characters that make his stories edgy. On top of it, there is a consummate set of actors (special mention for Jisshu Sengupta and Palomi Ghosh) whom Ghosh harnesses well, be it the kids, the elders or the ghost-buster dog. It felt unfair, however, that in a series with a bunch of 10-year-olds leading from the front, only those above 16 are allowed to click on the play button.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 3:11:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/netflix-typewriter-review/article28674235.ece

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