Welcome to the Blumhouse: Evil Eye Review
Sometimes a trauma is so horrific, a force in one’s life so negative, that it has repercussions across generations. That is the essence at the core of Evil Eye, the latest instalment of the Welcome to the Blumhouse series.
Indian-American Pallavi (Sunita Mani) is getting tired of her mother Usha (Sarita Choudhury) and especially her efforts at finding Pallavi the ideal husband, putting her faith in superstitions and astrology to determine a suitor’s idealness. When Pallavi meets the handsome, rich, and kind Sandeep (Omar Maskati) it seems that both mother and daughter’s worries are at an end. However, Usha notices something strange about Sandeep, a dark connection to her own past that might threaten both parent and child.
Indian horror has never really enjoyed the same impact in the West as other Asian countries. We all remember the Japanese and Korean horror boom of the late-90s/early-00s that gave us the likes of Ring, The Grudge, A Tale of Two Sisters and more, but even with the prevalence of world cinema on streaming services Indian horror just hasn’t experienced a similar boom. Which is a shame, but perhaps something like Evil Eye, directed by twin brothers Elan and Rajeev Dassani, could open the door to more Indian filmmakers being able to tell stories from their culture in this part of the world.
The Dassani’s were immediately drawn to the script for Evil Eye, adapted by Madhuri Shekar from her own audio drama that was available on Audible last year, because of their own experience with parents and relationships, and also their familiarity of reincarnation in Hinduism and Sikhism That comes through in the material and makes for a film that doesn’t feel the need to stop for the sake of heavy exposition to keep the audience up to speed. Evil Eye has snappy pacing, maybe to the detriment of really getting to know the characters, but not to the point that you can’t get into the story.
The star of the piece really is Sarita Choudhury. Her concern and protectiveness for her daughter, her determination to piece together what’s happening, and her refusal to back down in the face of others disbelief, all make for an interesting and compelling central role. The way she portrays Usha’s ongoing trauma concerning her abusive ex is sincere and at times heart-breaking, although people constantly disbelieving the main character when something is going on is a big horror pet peeve of mine. This focus on Usha does mean that we spend less time with Pallavi and know little about her mindset, which makes her side of the story pale in significance.
That said, Mani enjoys a great scene as Pallavi calls out her mother for the way her life and sense of self-worth has been affected by her meddling. Also falling by the wayside is Maskati’s Sandeep, especially once we know the full truth. His performance is chilling at times, and whilst never scary, the film is very much rooted in something that is an uncomfortable, and at times, painful reality. A little bit more in terms of the particulars of his life, and to what extent he is his own person removed from his past life, would have been interesting.
The ultimate confrontation between Usha and Sandeep is an area where Evil Eye’s pacing works against it. The moment feels like something the film has been building towards, and the actors are doing some great work as each character tries to trip the other up, but as soon as it starts it’s over almost as quickly, leaving you feeling like something is missing. Things do end on a strong note, however, taking a firm stance against victim blaming and affirming that motherly bond of strength and protection, even against cruel odds.
Evil Eye is carried along by an interesting story and Choudhury’s performance, and while it may never truly thrill or terrify, it is solidly made and has an engaging quality that showcases the potential for more horrors like it to follow in the future.
Welcome to the Blumhouse: Evil Eye is available to stream on Amazon Prime from October 13 along with Nocturne.