Cast: Akshay Oberoi, Parvathy Omankuttan, Rajesh Sharma, Dipannita Sharma, Arunoday Singh, Omkar Das Manikpuri
Director : Akshay Akkineni
A pizza delivery boy can be an unwitting witness to some truly bizarre happenings : you go to the doorstep to pick up your pie, he is ready with a hand outstretched for the money, and maybe a tip. You ask him to wait while you find the correct change, he steps in, and the door bangs shut. And then comes a bloodcurdling scream..
Neat premise for a horror film, and ‘Pizza’ runs with it, falteringly at the start, and getting it together as it goes along but never really acing it. The debutant director ( Akknineni is top editor Sreekar Prasad’s son; Prasad has edited the film) shows he has an eye : some of the scary moments are well done, and you jump a little. But there’s not enough sharpness or consistency in the build-up, and the in-between stuff sags.
Kunal (Oberoi) scoffs at the supernatural, but is surrounded by people who believe in it. His pregnant wife Nikita ( Omankuttan) , his boss ( Sharma) whose wife seems to be ‘possessed’ by an evil spirit, and whose dodgy associates include a ‘sadhu’ who doubles up as an exorcist (Manikpuri), and his pizza outlet colleagues who seem unnaturally concerned by the boss’s marital troubles.
A remake of the surprise Tamil hit of the same name, the film proves a point. That successful horror doesn’t need stars, it needs a solid script, and atmospherics. The bodies with axes jutting out, the trail of bloody feet, the wriggly maggots in the pizza, are all to the good, but the story-telling needed to have been better.
The Tamil film is superior because it has smarts AND suspense : it’s send-up of the genre is skilful, and the lead pair is having a blast. The thing between Oberoi and Omankuttan doesn’t have flash, though the former does a good job of looking petrified, as he flails about in the house of horrors, armed with a flashlight, trying to get out .
What I liked about the film is its refusal to weigh anything down with false portent. The horror bits are efficiently done even though my 3D glasses didn’t give me anything extra . An entire portion in the second-half delivers a mild shiver a minute, but at no point did I feel like closing my eyes ( my index of how scary the film is ), and there were some points where a laugh escaped me : those bits were unwittingly funny.
‘Pizza’ will give you some nice chills, and a little twist in the end, which is not as a surprise as it should have been. While we wait for the sequel, try catching the Tamil original ( it’s out with subtitles), for a slice of pizza with extra cheese.
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