The Village starts off pretty well, but it required something more convincing than a bunch of creepy Gollum-like monsters to deliver the impact it should, observes Divya Nair.
Exploring the murkier side of medical crimes is the new buzzword for thrillers on OTT.
I love it when horror and thrillers are not about white-coloured ghosts, spirits, and superstitions and at least have a scientific or more logical explanation towards the end.
The Village, directed by Milind Rau, is inspired by a graphic novel of the same name.
A group of individuals are tricked into an abandoned village now haunted by unknown creatures. While they figure out the reason behind the unexplained killings in the village, one of them has to rescue his family, while the other has to battle the odds and complete his mission and return safely.
In the introduction scene, set sometime in the 1990s, we see a family rushing a pregnant woman to the hospital. Due to a roadblock, the van driver takes a detour through Kattiyal village. Their journey is interrupted when a man unexpectedly bumps into their vehicle and what we see next is a bunch of arrows and weapons aimed at the travellers, detaching heads from torsos and blood oozing out from human bodies in the most merciless and bizarre fashion.
Cut to 2005. Dr Gautam (Arya) and his wife Neha (Divya Pillai) are enjoying a road trip with their daughter Maya (Aazhiya) and a playful beagle named Hectic when they decide to take a detour through Kattiyal to reach the highway faster.
As you would expect, the vehicle breaks down in the middle of a forest where there is no GPS or phone connectivity. The anticipation of what will happen next is obvious and the makers beautifully use this strategy to their advantage.
While Gautam goes out to seek help and returns with a trio of reluctant villagers, he discovers that his family has mysteriously disappeared. Along the journey, the trio engages us with the story of how the once flourishing Kattiyal village turned into a ghost town that no one wants to talk about.
A parallel story is of Prakash (Arjun Chidambaram) who is paralysed, helpless, and stubborn beyond reason to find the ultimate cure to restore his health, which he believes lies hidden in the abandoned village. Despite his father's warnings, Prakash sends a team of experts to retrieve a sample that he hopes will help him get back on his feet.
The story is narrated in back-and-forth fashion which makes it engaging in bits. There are ample of jump scare sequences to keep your hearts racing in the initial few episodes of this six-part series.
Towards the fourth episode, the suspense is out and the series drags on for another hour or more trying to justify the elimination of the remaining of the characters by a bulky, Hulk-like creature.
The bulky Arya, with his deadpan expressions, makes you constantly guess what he is even up to -- Is he really upset that his family is missing? Is he clueless about what he is expected to do next? Or is he thinking of a way to outsmart the bad guys?
In the scene where he enters a bar and requests help, you want him to be a bit more convincing. Even in the scene where he screams and expresses his helplessness, you want to tell him to shut up because it's cringe max. This is not the Arya we loved in Sarpatta Parambarai. But once you learn to ignore Arya's acting skills, you will appreciate some of the better-talented characters who are equally trying to escape from his messy, gory thriller.
The Village definitely has a good backstory and starts off pretty well, but it required something more convincing than a bunch of creepy Gollum-like monsters to deliver the impact it should.
While some of the emotional scenes are handled very well by actors like Aadukalam Naren, Magalakshmi Sudarsanan, and S Tharani, the sets are far from believable, which also kind of dilutes the impact of story-telling. Arjun Chidambaram is another potential talent who I believe, deserves a sequel.
If you are someone who has enjoyed watching movies like the Saw series featuring man-eaters and the sight of mangled bodies and blood fountains don't make you flinch, The Village is just what you'd like to feast on.
Overall, the series would have been more interesting if it had been restricted to four shorter, crisper episodes with a better, more convincing, lead actor.
The Village streams on Amazon Prime/