Cast: Nayanthara, Sathyaraj, Haniya Nafis, Anupam Kher, Vinay Rai
Director: Ashwin Saravanan
Rating: 2 Moons
The COVID-19 pandemic gave many haunting memories to people across the globe. But if you're made to imagine a situation wherein you're locked inside your own home after testing positive for the virus and one of your family members is possessed by a demon? It sounds chilling, doesn't it? This concept is explored by Ashwin Saravanan in his latest film titled Connect. As much as the concept sounds interesting and unique on paper, the actual execution isn't equally impactful.
Connect takes place in the modern era of virtual meetings, quarantine, lockdown, and COVID-19. It is about Susan (Nayanthara) who tests positive for COVID-19 along with her young daughter Anna (Haniya Nafis). Susan's husband, Dr. Joseph (Vinay Rai), has succumbed to the virus while treating patients at the hospital. Anna is particularly disturbed as she couldn't make her father listen to her song. She seeks spiritual interference to connect to the father in the other world. An Ouija board changes Susan and Anna's lives forever.
The Ashwin Saravanan directorial manages to stay connected to its core genre-horror. The director loads the film with a generous amount of jump scares and creates the right atmosphere for a classic desi horror movie. While some are just perfect to give you chills, most of them land flat due to the forever-existing predictability factor. There have been spookier, scarier, and more engaging films of the genre but Connect somehow doesn't establish a secure connection with the audience.
What keeps the momentum going despite flaws is the background score. For a horror film to create the correct impact, the music has to be the strongest. Connect scores well in that department. It relies heavily on technical aspects, giving less importance to the story. To convince the audience that it is a horror film, the story is too straightforward. The risk they desired to take with a unique plotline doesn't pay off as expected.
Connect takes off to a great and interesting start but the spark fizzles out too fast too soon. The 1 hour 45 minutes long film just aims to reach the point where the exorcism takes place. The journey to the conclusion is clueless and underexplored. It gets predictable in the first hour but still, the atmospherics and eerie background score keeps you seated in anticipation of something unexpected.
The exorcism, intended to be scary and spooky, is more comical than any comedy film. Since we know Anna was seeking a chance to talk to her father through the Ouija board and that's when the demon possesses her, the makers missed out on the opportunity to use the doctor's ghost to establish an emotional connection. The ghost that actually possesses her has no relevance to the story. There's no convincing backstory revealing the reason behind the demon entering Anna's body.
Fellow horror lovers, raise your hand! Jump scares are the easiest and tested way to complete a film but when similar squeaking doors, ghosts hanging from the ceiling, inverted cross, and Holy water techniques are used, you are left disappointed. Such moments at regular intervals are fine but as repetitiveness seeps in, it starts pinching. Ashwin attempts to make a modern-day reimagination of The Exorcist but fails miserably.
Sad to report that Nayanthara fails to shine in Connect. Her performance remains unconvincing throughout. Susan's relationship with Anna is underexplored. The tension prevalent at home doesn't get conveyed well. Nayanthara, known as the Lady Superstar, seems disinterested in Connect. Another disappointment is Anupam Kher. After a great year with films like The Kashmir Files and Uunchai, the actor's performance looks rehearsed in the horror film.
Haniya Nafis has got the toughest role to play and to an extent, she does it well. Having said so, there was enough scope for her to display her talent but a poor script let her down. Sathyaraj has nothing much to do.
The only, thankfully, positive aspect of Connect lies in the technical department. The camerawork, sound design and set design are bang on. The short runtime also scores a brownie point. But at the same time, it is a demerit as many factors are left incomplete and answered.
Connect is a film that could connect with the audience down South but for the Hindi belt audience, it could be a weak experiment.
PeepingMoon gives Connect 2 Moons