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Writers: Milind Rau, Siddharth
What's Yay: Story, Execution, Performances, Cinematography
What's Nay: The pace of the film falters a bit in the second half.
Popcorn Refill: Strictly Interval
Iconic Moment: The exorcism of Jenny, her spooky encounter with the spirit in the bathroom, the scene where a dictaphone apparently seems to be having a mind of its own and the one where Krish, inside the operating theatre, is pushing electrodes into an open skull and faces apparitions.
The film begins with the past (black and white) where we see the introduction of an expecting Chinese mother and her young daughter. A couple of their 'loving' moments is shown- the girl stepping out of the well and hugging her mother.
Cut to 2016, a love-making couple Krrish, a brain neuro surgeon (Siddharth) and Lakshmi (Andrea Jeremiah) rewind back to their early days about their first meeting which culminated into a secular wedding.
Everything is happy and gay for this much-in-love couple until Paul (Atul Kulkarni) and his family shift in the house next door. His eldest daughter Jenny (Andrea Jeremiah) is a rebel. She is troubled by her mother's death and has a thing for gothic. We find her crushing over Krrish who just brushes off her advances. Life is normal for these two families. Until that fateful night! Jenny suddenly develops mysterious bout of fits. Soon, a series of paranormal events affect the lives of people around her. Is the seed of this mystery sown in the past?
Horror films made in Indian cinema are often panned for the shoddy execution and unnecessary skin show. In such times, Milind Rau's The House Next Door comes as a fresh breather. The story might not be new but it's the filmmaker's unique treatment to the plot which makes it a nail-biting affair! This one has got no 'puraani havelis' or gore to spook you.
Instead, Rau purely relies on creating eery atmosphere, a peek through eyeballs and keyholes and terrific visuals for a sense of cold fear. Don't miss a couple of 'genuinely' spooky jump-scares. A transparent hand leaving a trace of blood on a piano key, unexplained whispers, a gnarled tree, shadows that pass by quickly- The House Next Door knows how to play with your mind.
On the flip-side, the pace of the film turns a tad sluggish in the second half. Also the point that the movie is trying to make need not have been underlined so in-your-face in the end. Also a couple of scenes seem to be inspired by 'The Ring', The Excorcism Of Emily Rose.
Siddharth is a delight to watch on screen! Andrea Jeremiah leaves a mark with a solid performance. She's brilliant in the scene where she examines Krish's neck after an epileptic Jenny has bitten him and remarks, dryly, that even she hasn't sunk her teeth into him that hard. This lead pair makes intimacy look so easy on screen!
But it's Anisha Angelina Victor as Jenny who has caught my attention the most. From a troubled teen to her 'possessed' state, she definitely needs a pat on her back for portraying a gamut of emotions with excellence. Atul Kulkarni and Prakash Belwade too put up a good act.
The House Next Door scores high when it comes to cinematography. Shreyaas Krishna's lens captures the menthol-blue Himalayan locales as effectively as the lurid red light down a corridor, behind a cross in Paul's house. A perfect balance of cool and warm palettes! The editing of the film and the VFX is also quite superior.
There is only one song at the beginning of the film to establish how Siddharth and Andrea transform from strangers to a married couple. Thankfully, the makers haven't forcefully thrusted tracks which could have diluted the narrative.
The House Next Door is gripping till the last frame and haunts you for a very long time. If horror films are your thing then we strongly recommend you to enter this house!