Rahul Sadasivan begins Bhoothakalam with still frames of a house, scary enough to let us know that the film is going to be a psychological thriller seeped in horror mode.
Seeing a dead body being taken for a funeral is regarded as auspicious in Hindu religion and that is probably why Sadasivan also chooses to begin his story with a death in the family.
The movie offers some jaw-dropping moments and brilliant performances by the lead actors Revathi and Shane Nigam.
The plot is of a mother (Revathi) and son (Shane Nigam) having to cope with each other in a haunted house. Both the main characters are going through psychological turmoil. Despite their unexpressed affection, they are at loggerheads mostly.
Revathy's acting prowess is on full display as a mother and as someone suffering from clinical depression.
Shane too does his bit brilliantly in portraying a sleep-deprived, jobless youngster who is also battling substance abuse issues.
Finally, these two join forces against a common enemy, albeit supernatural, to solve their problems.
Saiju Kurup's character of a counsellor is not so well defined. A man of science being scared of ghosts stories heard from a neighbour and dropping his client for it only to later go looking for the past is a bit shaky, but he was necessary to unravel the 'Bhoothakalam', or the past, of the mystery house.
Gopi Sundar's background score combined with Shehnad Jalal's camera work gives us an eerie feeling required for the horror, without much need for VFX.
The script touches upon a lot of current psychological and societal issues but brushes past them without giving us much and tends to focus on the horror part only.
James Eliya and Athira Patel also does notable roles in the movie.
'Bhoothakalam' also marks Shane's debut as music director for the songs penned by Sadasivan and Sreekumar Sreyas.
Sadasivan's 'Bhoothakalam' is a gripping tale which keep us hooked without feeling bored. However, the movie props up a confused message, like its key characters, as the director fails to convey his ideas with clarity.
'Bhoothakalam' is streaming on SonyLiv.