MAYA (2015) – A WELL-MADE TAMIL HORROR FILM

BY THE GORGEOUS PALAH CHINGU

My Rating : 4.5/5
My Rating : 4.5/5

If it wasnt up to ruby, maybe i wont watch this film ever. First reason would be that Tamil films has a tendency to have a sloppy camera work and the quality picture usually is a sub par compared to Bollywood films. This is how my perception went and truth be told, i’ve watch quite few Tamil films that had a nice story line but you just cant ignore the hideous technical part of it. Sorry but not sorry, that’s how i felt. However, it was about to change. If Tamil film industry can maintain their quality and kept producing the good quality film like this one, i am sure they can even surpass Thailand (that most of us knew that they are the king in making a horror flick films).

Aari as Vasanth/ Arjun
Aari as Vasanth/ Arjun

The story began when 2 guys ( Vasanth and His friend) sitting in a living room playing a poker game. They are having a conversation about a girl named ‘Maya’. Apparently, this ‘Maya’ has been accused of poisoning her husband and she has been submitted to one of a mental institution in a forest named ‘Mayavanam’ due to her insanity. At that time, she was pregnant. Little did she know that her life is going to end there. After she delivered her baby, her child got taken from her. She pleaded and begged but nobody gives a damn. A few days later she was found dead and whether she committed suicide or someone pushed her, the hospital didnt care. They have been using that hospital as a base to test sickening experiment on those patients and one dead patient doesnt bothered them at all. ‘Maya’ story also have a freaky chant  that goes ‘ Maya, I dont have your baby‘ which legend told if you say it out loud 3 times, you are going to get a visit from ‘Maya’. His friend decided to chant it and calling out for Maya. At the third time, a dark figure shaped like a lady showed up behind Vasants, his friend was so shocked and fell behind from his seat. It turned out that Vasanth was doing some prank together with his friend’s wife who showed up dressed like a Maya ghost.

If you watch this film later, you might be wondering why there are some scenes in a black and white color and some are in normal color. Rather than giving you the sizzling spoiler, let me just tell you that there are 2 stories in this film and somehow , they are going to be converged together to make sure you understand the ending. To completely say this film is not a cliche horror film, i will not dare to. If you look at a mental institution, musical doll, lady ghost flying a few feet above the ground, its all there but how director reinvent those cliche that how he left me impressed.

Nayantara as Apsara
Nayantara as Apsara

Another story revolved around Apsara who just recently separated with her husband. She was miserable and at her wit’s end of trying everything to make her life works. She pursued her dream back which is acting but nothing seems to do good for her. Swathi, Apsara’s friend try to help her as much as she could. Apsara’s husband kept coming back and ask for her forgiveness but she remain cold and distant. She tore the check that her husband gave and doesnt let her husband to meet Meera, their daughter at all. What causes Apsara to be so indifferent with her husband, it remains a mystery until the end because thats when you can connect the dots in a story line that director has scattered all over the film.

Lakshmi Priyaa as Swathi
Lakshmi Priyaa as Swathi

Where is the connection of this 2 story that i just mentioned above, you might ask? Swathi, Apsara’s friend is an assistant director for  ‘MAYA’ film that slated to be released in 2 weeks. The film is based on the ‘Maya’ story that has been circulated around and considered a scary one because of some mysterious death related to it. There are rumors saying those who entered ‘Mayavanam’ couldnt find their way out and the tale of headless body cutting a tree in a middle of night happened there. The film production is having some trouble in getting the film distributors and try to market their film via contest approach. In order to generate interest among the audiences, they put up a price of 50 grand to anyone whom dare to watch this film alone in the middle of night at the cinema. The company also monitored a CCTV and heart rate monitor in case the participant cheated (close their eyes during screening and so on) and if anything like heart attack ever occurred during the contest.

Apsara has been avoiding a loan shark for over a week. She promised to pay him but failed to do so because her check bounced back. Her work in a commercial advertisement didnt deliver the payment although they promised her. She remembered about the contest that Swathi told her and decided to try it herself. She was scared but she has to do it in order to pay the debt and feed her daughter. She doesnt want to live under her husband’s assistance. She sat through a movie all alone although Swathi warned her not to to do it in the first place. Swathi told her about the first participant that has met his unfortunate death here. Swathi was convinced that this film carried a curse but Apsara wont heed any of her warning. Apsara calmed herself and watched the film from the beginning. She was scared but she has to endure it. A few minutes of watching the film, Apsara found herself in appeared  in the film.

After being so disappointed with Sinister 2, i thought i will never find  a good horror film this year. I was wrong. The storyline is a little bit complex and it requires you to think what are the connection of 2 stories that shown alternately in the film. The whole film is on point. The cinematography just screamed perfection from the start. This is not an exaggeration. The way they played with scenes in 2 different color tones is amazing. They even captured some of the scenes via shadow to kept the mystery alive. I would love to congratulate the technical department on such brilliant takes. It was a marvel to see takes after takes creating a movie magic. The soundtrack also shouldnt be left behind without any praise because they didnt play safe by playing the tune of cliche horror sound like a women’s laughing or shrieking. They keep it minimal but full of impact in certain scenes. The song featured in a film also not over the top in order to keep the audience in a horror mode. The performance by Apsara (Nayantara), Vasanth/ Arjun ( Aari), (Ram) Amzath Khan and Swathi ( Lakshmi Priya) is laudable and together they made a great ensemble casts.  The way Nayantara carried the film is award – winning performance . They stay true to their character  and managed to convince the audiences to feel the emotions together. You can feel empathy towards Apsara and you can feel angry when Ram dug Maya grave wihout any respect in a ‘Mayavanam’ Forest. Last but not least, The director of this film, Ashwin Saravanan who made a debut with this film, you are truly a gem. I will definitely looking forward to watch your next film. You played ‘fear lies in the unknown’ very well in this film. You let us into our own imagination on how ‘Maya’ will looked like. You didnt throw the cliche ending of how ghost will exposed herself at the end of story. You just produced a glimpse of Maya and finished it with a bang.

p/s: Usually, my post will be full of pictures but its hard to find any picture of Maya in google (either it was too early because it has just been released or this film keeping it simple in terms of promotion and advertising). I dont know but one thing i do know, please go watch this film, its worth your money and time. Trust me on this one.

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Oculus (2014) : Horror Film Review

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

My Rating; 3.5/5
My Rating; 3.5/5

“Oculus offered such a great plot with a twist of horror. It delivered a good scare and your heart beat will skip so many beats because of the surprise element in it. Unfortunately, the ending was mehhhhh. To conclude, Hollywood film loves to slaughter a good story with a very disappointing ending.”

Thats what i wrote in my facebook status right after i finished watching it. I felt the thrill, the excitement and the scare but i was dumbstruck by its ending. I mean come on guys!! Do you guys planning to do a sequel? The story begins with 2 different plot with a different timeline. It’s a flashback but in the same time, it is accompanied with a present story. It does get confusing earlier because i thought its about 2 mirrors connecting each other and the ghost can travel through those mirror. Well, its not. For a second there i thought its just a rip off of Indonesian Horror Film, Kuntilanak. The story is about Kaylie’s family that being haunted by the mirror. Cliche as it can be, the family moving to a new neighborhood in a suburb area (place is not mentioned though) and ready to start a new life. Kaylie’s parents, Alan and Marie were busy to set their new home and life together.

Kaylie and Tim in the flashback version
Kaylie and Tim in the flashback version
Kaylie and Tim in the present version
Kaylie and Tim in the present version

The ghost appeared in a short time earlier but still everybody gasp in the cinema. The disturbance started when Alan purchased an antique mirror and put it in his office. The evil force started showing the signs that they are currently residing in the house. The plants started wilting, their family’s pet is weak and inactive in a past few weeks and both Kaylie and Tim see a girl walking in the stairs and in the office particularly. At first, Marie suspected Alan for his infidelity due to a girl that the kids seen in the office. By the time she realized the mirror is the root for what had happened to the family, it was too late. She was already possessed and tried to kill her kids. Alan managed to arrive home and caught his wife trying to brutalize the kids. He successfully in making her fainted for a moment and try to call 911 for help. Its too bad that the spirit got into him too and he was in a trance. Controlled by the spirit, Alan chained and locked Marie in the bedroom and told his kids not to go near the bedroom for a while because their mother is sick.

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The Possessed Mom

Kaylie being an older sister try to protect his bother at all cost. She called many psychiatrists to ask for help only to be dismissed by them. For me Kaylie is a smart girl in the story. She detected that something is wrong when she tried to call for help. Although they used a different number, the same voice will answer the call. Knowing that she cannot sit still without trying everything, she went to her neighbor. Her neighbor did come to meet her father but her father assured the neighbor that nothing really happened and it’s just a teenager girl acting out. Kaylie was scared for her life and his brother. That night, her father decided to release her possessed mother from chain. The horror began when her mother chased them off and try to strangle kaylie to dead. She cried and called for her mother helplessly to stop it. At that moment, her mother suddenly loosened her strangulation and aware that it was her daughter she tried to kill. Her father then shot her mother three times.

M301 (Left to right.) Kate Siegel,  Rory Cochrane, Bob Gebert and Justin Gordon star in Relativity Media's OCULUS.  Photo Credit: John Estes ©2013 Lasser Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
When Kaylie’s father shot her mother thrice.

Kaylie pulled tim away and tried to smash the mirror with a golf putter together with her brother. The antique mirror is capable of protecting itself. They hit it with so many times but failed to cause any crack on that mirror. In fact, they realized that they were hitting the wall but not the mirror. Their father then came into the office and try to strangle kaylie for trying to break the mirror. Tim then hit his father and managed to take the pistol away. Alan then knelt infront of Tim and asked Tim to pull the trigger. What kind of kid around Tim’s age would kill his father? Alan take the gun that held by Tim aimed it right at him and shot himself. Alan died immediately. After this happened,all of you can guess what will happened next? The police and the ambulance will be arriving at the scene. Tim was sent to a mental hospital for evaluation and submission there and Kaylie is being submitted in the foster care after the tragedy.

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The glowing eyed ghost

This is the first plot they featured in a timeline that taken place during their childhood. The second plot featured in the film is when Kaylie and Tim had grown up. Tim already moved on and wanted to let of this past. His treatment indicated that all that tim encountered are part of his brain trick and it is not real. Kaylie, however, is obsessed and she had been tracking the mirror and found it. She purchased it and wanted to find the truth about the mirror. She asked tim to help her. Tim refused to do so at first but relent to his sister seeing that she could not move on.They both were back in their old house and placed the mirror at the original place. Kaylie sets up everything that she needed to prove that she is not crazy and there is some apparition that stays in the mirror. The camera, the clock, the plant and even the equipment to destroy the mirror if anything were happened to them. This is where the thrilling and mindfucking event occurred.

I am not going to spoil this film any further, it was good in entirety but the ending is going to ruin your mood. I wanted to give 4 for the flawless silver-eyed ghosts in the film but i am sticking to 3.5. Overall, the film is scary but not ‘that scary’. Oh before i forgot, there is one favorite moment i would like to feature in this review.

oculus

When Kaylie thought she bite the lamp glass (not apple) and her mouth got all bloody, that was awesome but gruesome at the same time. The mirror tricked her into thinking that she did chew the lamp glass. When Tim called her name, she suddenly realized that she still biting the apple.