|Sudeep, Amruta Khanvilkar, Ahsaas Channa, Neeru Singh and Anu Ansari|
The sequel is scarier, but again let down by a weak ending.
Phoonk ended with the death of Madhu, who had cast a black magic spell on Raksha, the daughter of Rajiv and Aarti. The follow-up begins with Madhu’s spirit coming back for revenge.
The family, perfectly happy like in advertisements, has just moved to a new location. With a dense forest in the back of the deserted bungalow, and an uninhabited beach overlooking it, the scene is set for chills.
One by one the family senses something unnatural in the new home. Raksha picks up an abandoned doll from a forest stroll; her kid brother claims the doll moves its head. The backyard jhoola swings on its own; the newly arrived guests claim that mysterious footsteps were following them.
Rajiv, who till now was hi-fiving his kids and saying 'relax' to his wife for the umpteenth time, is worried. The spirit makes it clear that she's out to kill his loved ones; Rajiv now has no option but to contact the tantric who helped him the last time.
The film moves swiftly and doesn't shy away from showcasing the ruthlessness of the avenging spirit. The murders are gory and bloody, and the viewer is at the edge of the seat for the most part. The hand-held camera moves stealthily through the home, while the background score builds up the impending scare nicely.
There are some nice spooky touches like the unlikeliest among the characters being the one whom the spirit possesses. Frightened children up your anxiety, as the body count climbs.
Interestingly, the aspect of black sorcery that was central to Phoonk has been kept out completely from its sequel. Debut director Milind Gadagkar (writer of Phoonk) builds up the story skilfully through the second half but loses the grip towards the end. The finale remains open-ended hinting at a Phoonk 3. Like horror films decades ago, there is sleaze added in the form of a bathing scene and Neeru Bajwa’s character in slinky night-wear.
The cast performs well; the highlight of the film. Sudeep (Phoonk, Rann) is effective for the most part as the father who helplessly watches his family being traumatised. Amruta Khanvilkar (Phoonk, Contract) as his wife is superb, especially when she’s trying to convince Rajiv of the odd goings-on in the house.
One does miss Ashwini Kalsekar’s spine-chilling laugh from the first film; she’s not half as effective as the ghost with the predictable make-up and horror-film
Phoonk 2 starts off being is scarier and bloodier than the first film, but ends up conforming to the regular horror fare complete with spirit possessions and the white-eyed ghost. Compared to the comedies that are made in the name of horror films, this one's an average watch.
Verdict: 2.5 stars