'A riveting and terrifying tale of horror and blind faith'
Siddharth, Andrea Jeremiah, Atul Kulkarni, Anisha Victor
'The House Next Door' is the story of Surgeon Krish (Siddharth) and his wife Lakshmi (Andrea) who are a happy and deeply in love couple. Their marital bliss is affected by the arrival of a family next door as with their arrival strange things start happening not only in their neighbor's house but also in their own household. As Krish and Andrea dwell deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding the paranormal activities, they uncover a terrifying and brutal tale buried in the deepest layers of blind faith and savagery.
I was totally blown away by this film. Horror films are made mostly by the Bhatt camp in Bollywood and they follow a fixed formula. Even though I liked quite a few of those films, I have to admit that they are getting a tad bit repetitive. 'The House Next Door' is a fresh and unique take on the genre that keeps you guessing right till the end. Freshness in a horror film is of prime importance as thanks to Hollywood, we have almost seen it all. If a plot cannot intrigue you, chances are it will not scare you. Thus, it can be said that 'The House Next Door' put the first step right.
One of the deciding factors for a horror film to be good or bad is the sustainability of the story, its believability and whether or not it is able to maintain the tension throughout and end with a bang. Here too, the film scores big. After the initial build-up, once the story picks up pace, it becomes relentless. The pacing is fast and the viewer has to pay attention to notice some titbits here and there that makes the film even more engrossing. However, the director is careful enough to ensure that the speed is not a deterrent for the naïve viewers to decipher the proceedings.
The next factor to look for in a horror film is obviously the scares. This film scared the 'Jesus out of me' on more than one occasion. The scares are of both kinds; the situational ones and the jump scares and it is a potent mix of both with some novelty in a few jump scares. I am used to jump scares and I know when to expect them, but here there were a few that caught me off guard. What I liked about the character designs of the paranormal entities was the fact that they have added a nightmarish hue to the characters that works really well. There are also some scenes that have no sound even though you can see the entities. That worked for me as well.
What makes the story and the horrors in a film come alive are the performances. Siddharth and Andrea effortlessly sell the happy couple and get you caring for them. This proves to be a crucial factor in realizing the scares as the audience doesn't want anything bad to happen to their favorite couple. Thus, the tension increases in the sequences were their safety is threatened. The final twist in the tale is extremely well acted by Siddharth. Anisha Victor plays an important character and she gives it her everything. I just loved her act. She is totally believable and affecting. Atul Kulkarni is a natural and here too he does exceedingly well to successfully communicate the fears of a father and his helplessness to save his daughter to the audiences.
The director has to be applauded for bringing to the table good visual effects that help in rendering the story visually authentic. The customary throwing around and butchery is shown with aplomb and gusto. This is a film which is A- rated and it doesn't shy away from getting down and dirty with its content. The sound design and the sublime camera work complement the other elements of the film. The biggest of the surprises for me was the superb dubbing. Generally, the Hindi dubbed versions of South Indian films are terrible but that is not the case here.
Overall, 'The House Next Door' is a film for the lovers of the genre who have a stomach for scares and macabre. This is not a watered down and made fit-for-all-audiences kind of horror fare. This is a thrilling, gruesome and sometimes terrifying tale of horror that is bound to get under your skin.