BHOOT RETURNS movie review: Fleetingly scary!

Ram Gopal Varma tells the story – 3D effects in place – of a demonic child who wrecks havoc in the Awasthi household. But does he do it well? Read on…

Kuch hi gharon ko bhoot pasand karte hai. And such an unfortunate bungalow in Bhoot Returns is the one in which Tarun Awasthi (JD Chakravarthy) decides to shift into with his wife Namrata Awasthi (Manisha Koirala), son Tapan and daughter Nimmi. And like it happens in almost every horror movie, everyone – except the alert wife who is always worried when it comes to shifting the residence – loves the house.

But before we could even begin to try spotting the corners from where the infamous Shabbo (heard about her – the famous ghost of BR?) will peep out, Nimmi pops up with a scruffy doll – Yeah, THE doll! One without which a horror movie is incomplete, or so the makers think – and asks Mommy dearest to let her have it. But wait, accompanying the doll is Shabbo! And we realise that the ghost of the movie has actually earned her place as Nimmi’s best friend before we could put the first popcorn into our gaping mouths. Now that was quick, huh?

But where exactly is Shabbo? While Nimmi goes on and on about Shabbo’s likes and dislikes, the ‘friend’ is nowhere to be seen. And so follow a series of raised eyebrows and reprimands that deem Shabs as the taboo topic in the house. Taboo because Manisha aka Namrata – the mom, who is looking harrowed through out the movie, manages to look even more disturbed whenever the name of this so called ‘imaginary friend’ is uttered. And the others in the house, well, they just try to ignore Shabbo as the work of a child’s overactive imagination. Yawn! Yeah, here too the logical mind refuses to be sidetracked.

But while logic prevails in broad daylight, the nights are filled with footsteps of an invisible being running all over the place, someone (supposedly Shabbo) banging on the door and Nimmi going “Mmmhhhmmm” whenever there’s pin drop silence. Spooky? Yes. But not when it happens for the nth time in the first half of the movie.

So there, get the idea? All elements – creaking doors, scruffy dolls, footsteps in the night – that make a horror movie spooky are right there. But the spook quotient fades after you see the same moves night after night in the haunted bungalow. And then you worry that RGV might repeat the mistake he committed in many of his previous horror flicks -leaving us high and dry with a half-baked script, and that too after setting a perfect eerie environment So, does he repeat it? Well, let’s keep that for later.

For now, with all elements firmly in place the movie sets into a pattern of sorts – one that could jinx the thrill of any horror movie. And so we snugly settle into ours seats, almost betting on the next move when – bang! – RGV comes up with the scariest twist and earns an applause! Yup, that’s exactly how the movie feels – scary, but only in bits.

And while the storyline solemnly trudges along with not many twists to its credit, it’s the three dimensional effect that keeps your mind occupied. The effect is good at times, no doubt, and esepcially when the camera follows the actors in the dark. That’s when you can almost feel the fear. But apart from that, the maker has only used it to focus on objects – showpieces, a digital SLR, wind chimes – that pepper the mundane dialogues. And mind you, squinting at those inanimate objects is one irritating factor of Bhoot Returns. But then, we all know about the downside of 3D, don’t we?

So coming back to RGV’s mistake – did he repeat it? Well, Ramu does set us up for a perfect horror movie in an eerie bungalow with just the right camera angles and sound effects, only to (again) fall short of getting an interesting script in place. But this time he smartly covers up for it by keeping the movie brief. While the first half does drag a bit, the second half comes to an end before you can take in the last sip of your cappuccino purchased during the interval. And man, were we thankful for it!

In the end, what we have is nothing close to intriguing or overtly spooky. With lukewarm performances and a couple of goosebumps inducing scenes, BR is a strictly okay – one time watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon…or Friday night!

Watch Bhoot Returns and you’ll realise how RGV has tread the thin line between scary and funny, and come out with a movie that actually dangles…errr…neither ways. It’s just a movie that aspires to scare, but hardly does.

Rating: 2.5/5

* Poor – Avoid!

** Average – Give it a shot if you are desperate!

*** Good – One time watch!

**** Very good – Must watch!

***** Excellent – Don’t miss!