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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Petromax movie review: A ‘horror-comedy’ of errors

Petromax movie review: This Tamannaah starrer wants to do more than just make you laugh, scream. This is the film’s biggest issue.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Written by S Subhakeerthana | Chennai | Published: October 11, 2019 9:18:55 pm
Petromax movie review Petromax movie review: This Tamannaah starrer seems to be confused about its popular perception as a horror-comedy.

Petromax movie cast: Tamannaah, Munishkanth Ramdoss, Prem
Petromax movie director: Rohin Venkatesan
Petromax movie rating: 1 star

Self-closing doors. A deserted bungalow. Uncomfortable silence. Darkness. Spooky music. Crawly things. Petromax has all of these, yet, nothing frightens you. A quick Google search says horror is one of the demanding genres in the Hollywood film industry. But somehow, when horror films are ‘localised’, or made down south, they become cliched, awfully predictable and lack everything that an effective horror film has. Usually, the template is to take something not all that scary (it can be a doll, a child) and make it into a feared object. Only human beings are shown afraid of ghosts, right? In Petromax, it’s vice-versa. Ghosts are scared of human beings. Now, you can assume how the story travels.

Petromax, the remake of Anando Brahma (which I haven’t watched), has Tamannaah reprising the role, played by Taapsee Pannu. Ideally, the story should revolve around Tamannaah’s character, but she’s barely seen. We get a glimpse into the lives of men – the supporting characters – played by Munishkanth Ramdoss, Kaali Venkat, Sathyan and TSK. They desperately need money. So they live in this desolate house for four days. Though these male characters are etched out engagingly, the output isn’t as good as we expected.

One of them has night blindness and plays the flute when he’s scared, the other is a Tamil cinema fanatic to an extent that he ‘counters’ ghosts with mindless punch dialogues from Anniyan, Singam and Saravana Stores’ advertisement. Kaali Venkat’s character is a drunkard. What happens when they are pitted against different circumstances, form the rest of the story.

Simply put, the premise is, humans are dreadful than ghosts. Had Rohin Venkatesan approached the script with some interesting writing, Petromax could have been the film he conceived. Alas, it’s a crushing disappointment. As a filmmaker, he should have set the right tone for things to fall into place. The writing falls flat and bland, despite having a bunch of men, who are good at humour. Tamannaah’s role gets lost in the mayhem.

Petromax seems to be confused about its popular perception as a horror-comedy. The so-called ‘situational comedy tracks’ fail to blend with the plot. The result: an absolute mess. For something that’s being billed a horror-comedy, there’s very little horror or comedy. Directors, in general, write scripts having characters in mind. But, in Petromax, the characters conveniently behave at their will.

This Anabelle-like child character runs here and there and does ‘funny’ things under the pretext of inducing fear. Whereas, it’s only laughter. Petromax wants to do more than just make you laugh, scream. It wants to tell a message, and that’s where the problem begins. Rohin Venkatesan doesn’t want so much to scare us. And, you’ve got characters doing exactly what you don’t want them to do. Also, this is for those who don’t particularly care for the horror genre.

No ‘horror’ film is complete without Tamil cinema’s favourite, Yogi Babu. He does a cameo appearance, which could have been avoided. Because it adds nothing to the story. His character’s existence is irrelevant like the ghost itself.

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