13B | Reviews
There was a time when the horror genre monopoly was with the Ramsays who scared through shabby masks and gory facades. Ram Gopal Varma brought a change in the scene with creepy camera movements and shocking sound effects but the fear was merely a natural reflex action to stimulus. Somewhere the storyteller was camouflaged between makeup men, cinematographers and sound designers. Debutante writer-director Vikram K Kumar succeeds in scaring you with his spooky story.
The urban story setting is similar to RGV's Bhoot with a family shifting in to their new apartment no 13 B in a city high-rise. The extended Barjatya -big joint family comprises of Manohar (R Madhavan), his wife (Neetu Chandra), mother (Poonam Dhillon), bhaiya, bhabhi, bachas and behan . From day one Manohar experiences strange occurrences in the building but keeps ignoring them until he happens to watch a daily afternoon soap on his TV that his family is hooked on.
Soon he realizes that the script of the serial coincides with the screenplay of his life. The characters in the soap correspond to that of his family and the events of the show run parallel to his real life. Manohar has to track down the analogy between the real and the virtual world and find the mysterious link between the physical and paranormal planet.
Writer-director Vikram K Kumar employs an innovative storytelling technique by not resorting to the antique body-possessed-by-spirit formula or exorcist emancipation approach. Rather the horror is induced through contemporary gadgetry like cellphone, television set, elevators, electric bulb and other such elements of everyday use which the viewer can easily identify with thereby relating to the protagonist's panic. With the modern milieu, the screenplay doesn?t opt for the obvious thereby teasing your anticipation.
Like is the tendency of most horror films, this one doesn't waste time with the protagonist?s disbelief in the supernatural and the subsequent conflicts between science and superstition. Rather Manohar comes to terms with the horror in his house pretty soon and probes into the puzzling past. The first half is devoted towards a brilliant buildup to the horror. The actual ambiguity unveils only in the second half with a multilayered flashback account.
The novel narrative has sufficient strength to induce fear by itself and the film doesn?t have to blatantly rely on external elements like a spooky background score or erratic camera angles. However this doesn't imply that the film is trifling on technicalities. The cinematography is perfectly poised, not obstructing the storytelling and simultaneously keeping the audiences riveted. The editing by Sreekar Prasad is competently crisp and slick. The opening credits amidst assembling of television components are inventively designed. The end of the film is equally intelligent.
The most obvious amongst the minor loopholes is the fact that apart from Manohar, no other member from the family realizes the correlation between the reel and the real life. The culmination of the climax into a revenge drama becomes a bit trite. The concluding reels get long-drawn-out and could have been trimmed down, like the nightmare sequence in the pre-climax. And clearly a song on beach has no place in a hypnotic horror film like this. Rather some genuine lighter moments in this tense thriller are induced through an unsuspecting watchman and the Murli Sharma track, without going tangential from the plot.
Vikram K Kumar is not just a smart storyteller and a proficient technician but has also extracted credible performances from his cast. R Madhavan is excellent as the central protagonist of the film, troubled by the TV. He adds absolute conviction to his character and is largely responsible in adding life to this tale of dead. Neetu Chandra takes a backseat but exudes raw appeal through her husky vocal chords. Deepak Dobriyal is impressive in a short but strong characterization. Murli Sharma lends able support.
13B promises big entertainment while weaving a story around the small screen. The film spooks you with its (serial) killer of an idea.
RATING : 3.5 / 5
13B – Movie Review
Thank God – rather Devil – for a horror film that doesn’t pander to the obvious clichés like possessed spirits, exorcists or witchcraft. 13B is a refreshingly different horror film, although a bit long.
The movie tells the story of a joint family that moves into an apartment, 13B, on the 13th floor of a residential building. Everything is hunky dory at first. But then, slowly and creepily, weird incidents begin to happen.
Madhavan , who plays the younger of the two married brothers, is the only one who notices these chilling coincidences. The elevator doesn’t work whenever he uses it. The old neighbour’s prescient dog refuses to enter the family’s apartment. And most importantly, he notices an eerie similarity between the characters of a TV soap and the members of his family (his wife, brother, bhabi, mother, sister, and two kids) who are hooked to the idiot box. He observes that the unfortunate accidents that transpire in the television soap eventually happen to the members of his own family.
Flummoxed and puzzled, he decides to dig deeper and unravel the mystery with the help of his cop friend (Murali Sharma).
Director Vikram K Kumar lays the foundation of story very deftly and gradually takes the film from a feelgood zone to a dark, paranormal, spooky one. Mind you, no ghosts pop out of closets or bathroom tubs. It’s the stuck elevators, distorted images on cellphones, flickering bulbs, and the mysterious teleserial with its ominous calamities that gives the jitters. Not to forget the brilliant cinematography by PC Sreeram and excellent background score that’s used to build anticipation and then deliver a jolt.
If the director falters, it is in the second half when the mystery is finally unravelled through a convoluted twist that’s hardly credible. Without spoiling the suspense let it be said that the clues thrown at you (the old photo album, et al) add together to make a picture that’s void of intelligently crafted plots one gets to see in riveting spooky thrillers.
Thankfully, the actors in the film don’t disappoint. Madhavan is superb, while Neetu Chandra (playing his wife) is reduced to the sidelines. Poonam Dhillon is perfect as the mother addicted to saas bahu serials. Deepak Dobriyal steals the show for a few minutes. Murali Sharma delivers well.
A movie like ‘13B’ could have done better without songs which serve no other purpose here than to make the movie longer. Yes, the editor should have used his scissors more frequently. Because by the time the mystery unravels, the viewer is too tired to care a hell.
Still, the movie is a good timepass. It doesn’t spook the daylights out of you, but it is chilling in parts.
hmmmm.. now I will watch the movie... Thanks Archna!
thnx a lot. movie was gud!