Irul movie cast: Fahadh Faasil, Soubin Shahir, Darshana Rajendran
Irul movie director: Naseef Yusuf Izuddin
Irul movie rating: 2 stars
A nightmare-ridden author who writes ‘dark’ novels. A pretty lawyer anchored to her cell phone. A strange fellow in a satin nightgown. And lethal games being played in a large house in a deserted hillside. The elements of a cracking thriller are all correct and present in this debut feature, shot during the pandemic. But someone should have warned the writers about the jump scare: too few don’t really matter, and too many lead straight to a point where no mystery ever wants to be, when we are tapping our fingers in impatience, and waiting for it to wrap-for-god’s-sake.
For the sake of our cast though, we give it our attention. Darshana Rajendran is convincing as a good-looking young woman who is also at ease with being a solid professional. A coffee with a potential boyfriend is also an opportunity to multi-task because her work is demanding. Soubin Shahir, who’s been steadily leapfrogging from one good role to another (Kumbalangi Nights, Android Kunjappan) is as believable as a first-time author very pleased to be in bookshops, and chafing at the fact that his attractive date finds her phone more fascinating than him. And Fahadh Faasil, who does being unhinged so well by now that he will find it difficult to please us with plain vanilla characters, is right in the middle of this desi-gothic story which has thunder, lightning and rain, stranded couples, and a body in the basement.
But the plot sags and drags, with the background music telling us constantly to feel the thrills and chills. The fact that Irul’s ‘Psycho’ overhang is visible right from the beginning, and refuses to recede, does not help either. There’s a photograph of a deceased mother, the cause of whose death appears to be mysterious. Who is the killer? The weird imposter, or the writer who researches serial killers, and wants to play out his fantasies? Or someone else?
The set-up has promise. The actors are up for it. But the story-telling lets them down. I didn’t feel a shiver down the spine, and the slight unease petered out too. When you know, after a point, exactly whodunit, then what’s the point?
Irul is streaming on Netflix, Malayalam with English subtitles.