When a Director who’s made some of the best horror films in Indian cinematic history (Razz, Hauted 3D, and 1920 - the first entry in the very franchise whose third installment we’re reviewing today), and who’s previously proved his versatility with classics in other genres like Ghulam and Awara Paagal Deewana, makes a film that can’t even be taken in the same breath as his erstwhile brilliance, you not only feel infuriated at the film on display, but also experience sadness at how far a once great filmmaker has fallen; and we say fallen because of the dismal pattern he’s shown in all his recent works.
Like all the other films in the series, 1921 aims for a gothic setting and exotic locations; only this time, the milieu looks as fake as the scares themselves. Zareen Khan plays Rose, a psychic occultist, who solves problems in the spirit realm, assisting both, the living who’re being pestered by apparitions and trapped specters who want nothing more than to pass on peacefully to the afterlife. All progresses decently for the first half an hour, even instilling some hope that Vikram could be back in form, till a soporific romantic track takes over and grating background songs breaks out every time our male and female protagonists meet each other, which, of course, is almost all the time – nothing wrong with that if they were actually combating evil spirits and demonic curses instead of swearing that their love for each other will triumph all sorts of malevolent presences.
Zareen tries her best, but it’s difficult to buy into her performance, when all her character does is reassure the love of her life, Aayush (Karan Kundrra), that he must stay alive at all costs because she can’t survive without him. On the other hand, Kundrra does his level best to mar whatever semblance of respectability Zareen strives to bring to the proceedings, with his inconsistent, high-pitched act. Moving on, the shocks and jolts do occur at quick intervals but they’re too random and bear little or no resemblance to the plot, or the lack of it, to evoke a genuinely chilling atmosphere. Shocks without mystery and intrigue to sting them along are nothing more than a flash thrill ride that wares off after a few minutes.
The rest of the plot plays out as an exercise in desperation to gratify us with cheap thrills rather than eerie chills. Vikram certainly knows his supernatural stuff, and the research is apparent throughout the movie. A basic knowledge of mysticism or a quick Google search of the terminologies thrown throughout the narrative, reveal that a lot of stuff, which is part of the film, has been actually taken from paranormal folklore. But what’s the point when none of them come together in a diabolical cohesive unit. Curses from all over the world, ghosts of all sorts, unconvincing cries in the dark, and clichéd elements borrowed from a thousand films in the genre are strewn across the slipshor screenplay, resulting in a tedious affair, made all the more unbearable by how the editor slept through this overtly long film. Then again, could we really blame the poor chap?
To round it off, the scares of 1921 are never scary; the romance is far from romantic; the story never draws you in; and the overall setting appears too fake to do justice to the ethos of its era. Are there any redeeming qualities? Well, Zareen endeavors hard to keep the film afloat, and though she fails, we, guess, the only good point is the realization that the lass actually has untapped talent. Beyond that, there’s nothing to take away from this snooze-fest of a creep-show, unless you consider a promising beginning that deceives you into believing that Vikram Bhatt could be back to his comfort levels in the genre that made him a household name. Other than these factors, you’re left yawning or fidgeting a lot throughout the film, and pondering how the once mighty have fallen.
Movified Rating: 1.5/5
Images Source: LoneRanger