Mammootty-starrer The Priest dons the robes of a parapsychologist. A thriller murder-mystery, of course, would warrant a flamboyant investigator in extravagant clothing rather than the dull texture of robes worn by friars.
So more than cops, a Priest is prompted by paranormal forces in the movie, which begins with a trail of blood that flows deep into the second half.
The cops here are willing accomplices to the investigation of the high-profile Fr Carmen Benedict, who is tipped about the suspicious nature of a series of suicides in a highly influential business family.
It is only natural for the investigators and the viewers that the needle of suspicion would swing towards the last remaining thread in the family.
So the Priest, with ample help of the cops, picks up the loose ends in pursuit of the mystery.
But as soon as they zoom in on the last remaining family member, she too commits suicide.
The priest then cracks the case with consummate ease. But then a sub-plot seems to emerge. A relationship between two orphans, one a student and another her teacher, takes centre stage.
Their relationship takes a curious turn when the teacher herself is entrusted by the school management to mentor the 'problem child'. The mysteries are far from over, though the murder case has been cracked before the interval.
As the priest, Fr Carmen Benedict himself prophetically says well before the interval break that we should not have pre-conceived notions about anything or anyone.
The first half break is ushered in with a shocker and Mammootty has so far been a flamboyant presence.
Interestingly, The Priest marks the biggest Malayalam release after the Covid-19 outbreak with a superstar in the lead.
The directorial debut of Jofin T Chacko, which released on over 300 screens across the state after several postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, then takes the bumpy road of twists and turns.
Twists and turns are fine, but then the dark scenes do not necessarily warrant an overdose of noise. And to unravel the motive behind mystery murders, a high-octane dose of melodrama need not be the only recipe.
Nevertheless, the filmmakers have chosen that route probably with an eye on wooing a wider audience than a murder mystery alone would command.
The Priest's BGM score, a key ingredient in the success of any thriller mystery, is strikingly similar to a pre-Covid Mollywood film which traverses through similar terrain.
And the obsession of filmmakers to inject a clown face element in all murder mysteries is not abating.
The Priest is not envisioned as a murder mystery alone as we can figure out from the songs that unravel through the screen, though these are not really in sync with the tantalising first half thread that The Priest reels out.
So The Priest takes too many bumpy rides in an interplay of suspense, twists and drama in the second half.
The suspense factor did not play well in the second half as the plot rides into familiar terrains. Probably that is why we have too many twists and turns which Fr Carmen Benedict is destined to unravel.
The movie, which was slated for February release, was postponed as the government did not give sanction for holding the second shows.
Considering the thread of the movie, Mammooty's scenes with Manju Warrier, which raises the curiosity level of the audience, are limited but high-profile.
The Priest features an ensemble cast including Nikhila Vimal, Sreenath Bhasi, Saniya Iyappan, Jagadish, Madhupal, Baby Monica, TG Ravi and Ameya Mathew.
With the story penned by Shyam Menon and Deepu Pradeep, the film has music by renowned composer Rahul Raj.