SYNOPSIS: A group of kids, a couple of kidnappers, and two men who are planning to murder one of the children get trapped inside a haunted mansion.
REVIEW: The set-up of Sanguchakkaram is something that is a staple of most horror films — a group of individuals gets trapped inside a haunted house. Where the film differs from the formula, if only slightly, is in making a bunch of kids part of this group. These kids go to an abandoned mansion in their neighbour to play, not realising that it is a ploy by Aagayam (Dhilip Subbarayan) to kidnap them.
Meanwhile, two more kids end up in the place, and soon enough, two more adults become part of this group. One of them is D’Souza (Raja), who wants to murder Tamizh (Nishesh), one of the kids in the group, so that he can gain Rs 500 crores. However, what these people do not realise is that the place is haunted by two ghosts, a mother (Geetha) and her daughter (Monica), who have no plan of letting them out.
Given that the horror comedy wave is now at its ebb, Sanguchakkaram feels late by at least two-three years. It doesn’t help that Maarison deals mostly with cliches to tell us his story. Barring Tamizh, no other kid is given any distinctive character trait, and they all seem utterly replaceable. In fact, there are more than half-a-dozen kids in the group, but the script wouldn’t change even a tiny bit if there were just two of the children around. We never care for them enough.
Much of the first half involves the characters stumbling in the dark, with the adults talking about the likely presence of a ghost and the children playing hide-and-seek. Even after the ghost makes it appearance, a lot of screen time is wasted with it chasing these intruders one after the other.
First, the head of the ghost pops up (with makeup that looks like it has run away from the salon with a beauty pack on its face), then we see its remaining body in a swirl of smoke, it screams at the character(s), and chases after them. Maarison repeats this same shtick over and over that after a point, we begin to feel like we are the ones trapped.
And for all their powers, the ghosts hardly inflict severe harm on these people. They keep recovering quickly after getting beaten up to continue the routine. Even a couple of exorcists we get in the second half, who could have been turned into the cool assassins in Kung Fu Hustle, aren’t utilised properly, clearly spelling out the director’s lack of imagination. The filmmaking, too, resembles what we see in contemporary TV serials like Nandhini… garish sets, cheap-looking effects and hardly compelling.
Agreed this has been billed as a kids film, but what we get here is downright kiddish that even the kids might find this only somewhat amusing.
Where the film feels different is in not giving the ghosts a backstory, which is quite a relief. There are a couple of touches that are interesting but these aren’t developed properly… like, the kids getting over their fear of the ghosts and even taunting them and some dialogue that serve as social commentary; when the kidnappers realise these are kids schooled in private schools, one tells the other there is no point in asking money from their parents because the schools would have already extorted all their money! The epilogue, in fact, ends with a kickass dialogue on Rajinikanth’s political entry. If only had the director brought such cheekiness into the rest of the film…