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Hide and Seek review: Slash this off your list!

Hide and Seek review: Slash this off your list!

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 17/5

Thursday 11 March 2010

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Movie Title

Hide and Seek

Director

Shawn Arranha

Star Cast

Purab Kohli, Arjan Bajwa, Mrinalini Sharma, Samir Kochhar, Ayaz Khan and Amruta Patki

Om (Purab Kohli) has just been released from the mental asylum after 12 years. We flashback to sporadic shots of a Christmas party and see girls with glittery pins in their retro-style hair, the guys growling, a gun-shot, something about a miniature Taj Mahal and so on.

The present day group of six is not in touch with each other. Om is still in love with Jyotika (Mrinalini Sharma), but his mother strongly disapproves of the liaison, believing it to be the reason for Om?s mental health. Om?s brother, a corporate honcho (Samir Kochhar) wants to send his brother back to the asylum. Jaideep Mahajan (Arjan Bajwa) is modelled on Raj Thackeray and his anti-migrants stance. There?s a sleazy actor Imran (Ayaz Khan) and a supermodel Gunita (Amruta Patki) completing the gang.

Now, all six suddenly receive messages from an unknown source that says `Caught You?. Creative and resourceful as hell, this mysterious source sends each message hand-written and decorated like a child?s craft project; other times using sms and email technology to spook the victims.

One night, they find themselves in the middle of a deserted mall, decorated for Christmas. They?re horrified to see each other, hinting that what happened 12 years back wasn?t memorable. This sets the ball rolling, where we see one juvenile attempt after another to jolt the viewer. A yellow-eyed Santa Claus photo peers in, the group realizes they?ve got stitches to their bellies, and gifts for their names are scattered across the floor. The plot it yet unclear. A character screams out to nowhere in particular, like they do in movies: `is this some kind of a joke?? Right.

More flashbacks happen till a Santa Claus appears on a wide screen like Amitabh Bachchan in Big Boss. In a disappointingly uncharismatic voice (in a villain-centric film, it?s pertinent for this character to be enigmatic), Claus rambles on something about a game. Oh, therefore the film title, you sigh. Everyone hides as the game starts, getting bumped off one-by-one. If you?ve seen Hollywood slasher flicks (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream, Urban Legend) of the `90s, you?ll find this attempt trite.

Debut filmmaker Shawn Arranha tries too hard to make you anxious; his effort palpable in every scene where the characters scream for their lives even as Santa runs after them with this weapon or that. In thrillers and sub-horror genres like the Slasher, treatment is paramount. Here, the storytelling is archaic reminding you of thrillers made back then, with everyone talking in echoes in flashbacks, a rape thrown in (close-up of the girl?s thighs), one-dimensional characterisation and a predictable following of events.

The restless background score by Amar Mohile (Agyaat, Woodstock Villa) and cinematography by Srikant Naroj (The Stoneman Murders) doesn?t help either. Purab Kohli, Samir Kochhar and Amruta Patki are among the more effective performers.

It would be worthwhile to consider why our serial killer picks Santa to be his choice for disguise (linking that to the story starting at a Christmas party doesn?t cut it). There?s never been a less palatable version with the cloudy stuck-on beard, sunglasses, uneven paunch and not even the trademark ho-ho-ho. The idea is to bring in the creepiness of films like Stephen King?s It where an innocuous character like that of a clown scares you out of your mind. To be fair, you?ll be left wondering who the killer is up till interval point.

But with the murderer and victims this unexciting, you?ll also end up not caring.

Verdict: One star

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