‘Lift’ movie review: Kavin stars in a diluted horror film that tries to say too many things

A still from ‘Lift’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

There are a couple of promising moments in Vineeth Varaprasad’s debut film, Lift. The first is the beginning. We see a close up of a radio set, which reads out the weather report. In the next shot, we see a body falling through a roof. After starting with this jolt, the film immediately slows down, trudges, and meanders as it establishes the characters and their environment. About half an hour later, Lift seems to work again (pardon the pun) when its protagonist, Guru (played by Kavin), gets trapped in a haunted elevator. For a few shots, it attempts to evoke a claustrophobic thrill. One man trapped in a small space with a supernatural entity, his screams for help unheard, his thoughts engulfed in panic. Just as you are beginning to wonder if the film is entering the survival-horror zone like Alien, the lift somehow opens, releasing all the tension. And, Lift resumes meandering.

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Lift seems confused with what it wants to be. Disney+ Hotstar (the OTT platform that released the film) categorises it as horror. But there is a bit of comedy, romance, and a seemingly impassioned outcry against corporate companies — all diluting the genre. And, this is the case with most Tamil horror films. They attempt to evoke contrasting emotions at jarring intervals. It is like walking through one of those carnival horror houses and stopping at random intervals to watch Vadivelu comedy.

  • Director: Vineeth Varaprasad
  • Cast: Kavin, Amritha, Gayathri Reddy, Kiran and others
  • Storyline: Two colleagues unwittingly get trapped in their office with a haunted elevator
  • Duration: 134 minutes

V Vignarajan's Andhaghaaram is the only recent unadulterated horror I can recall. That film, despite its other issues, had a consistently sombre mood, which worked well. Also, its characters were more relatable than Lift's. Its protagonist, Vinod (Arjun Das), for instance, gets rattled and traumatic upon encountering a paranormal phenomenon. And, this is how he is throughout the film. Guru and Harini (Amritha), Lift's protagonists, also get scared. But several moments in the film trivialises the mortal danger they are in. For instance, Harini tells Guru at one point, “Un kooda deal panradhukku andha pei oda deal panradhe mel (It is better to deal with the ghost than you).” Guru sings the birthday song for Harini, switching on his lighter. It is hard to believe they are people who watched a lift controlled by a ghost; a man slitting his own throat with a paper-cutter, and the news of their deaths on television.

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It is also hard to grasp how the spirits (yes, there are two of them!) work. They can manipulate the elevator, make photocopies, disconnect the phones, and create a Penrose stairs-like illusion. But they let some devices, like the torch, work fine. Of course, there must be a suspension of disbelief. But there also must be consistency within the film, no? It is difficult to understand the spirits’ intentions. We come to know in the end that they have something to show to one of the protagonists. But...they also try to kill them (?).

Humans in Lift behave stranger than spirits. When Guru meets Harini for the first time, she requests him to click a photo. He takes her phone, pretends to click a photo and intentionally drops the phone into a fish tank... for no apparent reason. He comes across as a jerk. And, this, somehow makes Harini have a crush on him. Later, when Harini reveals her attraction, he says he isn’t interested. He tells her he can call her “akka” (sister); Harini slaps him and says, “Girls get angry when called ‘sister’ like how boys get angry when called ‘brother’.”

Apart from the aforementioned questions, I have one more, about the film’s title; why call it Lift when the entire office is haunted? Considering the one-liners and absurd scenarios that keep unfolding there, The Office might have been a better title.

Lift is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 2:05:16 AM |

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