One major aspect of mystery movies is that they prey on the instinct to look for answers to uneasy questions. And what's maddening is not knowing what’s going to happen next, introducing the element of unpredictability. This unertainty grips till the very shot.
Irul starring Darshana Rajendran, Fahadh Faasil and Soubin Shahir in the lead tries taps into all these scenarios.
In 1968, when K S Sethumadhavan and Thoppil Bhasi gave us this gobsmackingly made and demonically inspired thriller Yakshi, a new frontier in psychological thriller took shape in Malayalam cinema.
Director Naseef Yusuf Izuddin, known for his several highly popular Hindi films including Kai Po Che, Newton, Happy New Year, Dil Dhadakne Do and Tumbbad, and Sunil Yadav takes up a similar experimental approach in Irul with a three-character film.
Archana is a High Court lawyer and Alex is a writer. They decide to go on a weekend getaway without cell phone. On the way, their car gets stuck amid heavy rain and as they spot a mansion, they reach out for help. Enter Fahadh Faasil and the at and mouse game pans out.
Trying to differentiate the bad from the good, guessing who’s lying or telling the truth, and attempting to solve a crime are all mental puzzles that are endlessly frustrating yet completely entertaining.
Sunil Yadav ramps up the tension by setting up the scenes in a foreboding mansion with an eerie basement. It looks as if no one may have come to the house before. Fahadh's character could be barely socializing, but ll three characters,wwe realise, are talking about a common theme - revenge as a mootive for murder.
Irul had a good idea to begin with, but then it is torn between wanting to make a psychological thriller or a crime saga woven around a a serial killer.
To unsettle us, the filmmakers and the characters keep implying Irul can fit either way.
Once the final climax is done and dusted, there are too many loose ends and unanswered questions.
An obvious artificiality in dialogues in certain scenes is a drag.
But that is not to say that the film doesn't have its bright moments.
The cast, for instance, is perfect. Fahadh Faasil, who plays the lead, has performed effortlessly.
A few complex scenes demand the best from the actor. Soubin has an easily adaptive way, which ironically makes us confused about his character. Darshana rightly fits in with the role and gives the same vibe as a viewer.
With the background score, Irul succeeds in creating a sense of anxiety. But looks like cinematographer Jomon T John had quite a big job.
His camera wanders unfettered across the green landscape, pulling up to give us extreme high angle aerial shots in the opening scenes and later moving gradually inside the house fiddling with the light and art departments.
Quite remarkably, the overriding impression of Irul is of a place shrouded in fearful secrets - the camera does capture that feel.
Irul is technically brilliant as a vintage whodunit or even as a terrifying psychological thriller, though it props up more questions than answers.