You know you are in for a treat when you see Marma Desam’s writer Indra Soundar Rajan being involved in a film that has been marketed as a no-nonsense horror from day one. Be it the promos, posters, or even the title, everything related to the film set the right expectation for me, a person who has invariably found the humour scary and horror elements funny in the recent tsunami of ‘horror-comedies’.
Iruttu’s universe is satisfyingly dark, just like its title. The jump scares are on point, the buildups land perfectly, and there are hardly any deviations from the core plot. The ghost doesn’t get a sympathetic backstory; it just embraces its evil with pleasure. The fear kicks in right from the word go here. No one can remain undisturbed on seeing a self-immolating man standing firm as a rock and howling like a dog before his last breath. Though the pacing feels inconsistent at times, the thrills never let up, thanks to the Girishh’s phenomenal score and the sound design of Vijay Rathnam and AM Rahmathullah.
We may all have our own set of phobias, but what invariably haunts everyone is fear of the unknown. VZ Dhorai’s Iruttu is a convincing blend of known fears and a ghost unknown to most of us. The choice to place the rarely-known jinn from Muslim mythology at the centre, is the strongest point of the film. The way the concept is presented is absolutely intriguing despite being so perspicuous. Dhorai, being a practising Muslim himself, adds a lot of elements like Tamil subtitles for every Quran verse to make the world more believable.
Though casting in Iruttu isn’t the best (I strongly feel VTV Ganesh’s Kuzhandhaivel needed a better actor), seeing Sundar C remain sane despite the host of paranormal events, feels convincing because of the image the actor has built for himself through the Aranmanai franchise. I would have loved the film more if it were the story of a single father’s battle, as the actor sells his portions with his daughter effortlessly, but is visibly uncomfortable when the heroine is around.
Sai Dhanshika deserves applause for choosing to play one of the most unconventional roles and pulling it off without false notes. But the true revelation here is Baby Manasvi. After being made to act beyond her age in films like Imaikka Nodigal, she finally gets a chance to show what she can do in Iruttu. She proves what a child artiste can do when she gets to work with the right director.
Iruttu is a horror film that takes the form of an investigative thriller. Though Dhorai leaves no cards unturned in the horror space, the film feels insufficient and rushed as a police procedural. A major portion of the investigation is propelled by coincidences and Sundar C’s Chezhiyan cracks almost all the clues without breaking a sweat. The film would have been elevated to a whole new level if these portions were crafted with the same care as the paranormal segments.
Though it would be unfair to compare the golden standards set by Marma Desam to any other series or films, I couldn’t help but look for similarities because of the Indra Soundar Rajan association. And that’s when it struck me that the titles of that series — Ragasiyam, Vidathu Karuppu, Edhuvum Nadakkum —apply to this film too, which is based on the secret of a ghost clad in black, with almost all happenings being unpredictable.
I wouldn’t call Iruttu flawless, but it does shine the light on a lot of the right places that our horror films have left out in the darkness in the recent years.
Director: VZ Dhorai
Cast: Sundar C, Sakshi Choudhary, Sai Dhanshika