Psycho Movie Review: A Weird Thriller That’s Not Meant For The Vanilla-Hearted
Sometimes, it’s difficult to believe how far a person can go to save the love of his life. And when disability is involved, it becomes harder for us to take the hero’s strength into consideration.
- Movie Name Psycho
- Director Myshkin
- Actor Udhayanidhi Stalin, Aditi Rao Hydari, Nithya Menen, Singampuli
A Telugu film actor recently said in an interview that festivals are meant for big, splashy movies that bring the families together and the “genre” films that cater to niche audiences can release anytime as they are consumed differently. In that sense, Darbar, which was a Pongal release, is far behind us now and it’s time for Psycho to occupy the theatres. Mysskin, who’s known for his quirky stories, is back with a thriller that’ll keep you guessing till the end. Of course, the hero is the true savior. There’s no doubt about that. The movie, too, takes familiar diversions, but the immersive experience that it offers is something that not many Tamil films have been able to match up to in the recent times.
I wouldn’t say that it’s all hunky-dory and wonderful as some of the weirdest portions pop out of nowhere just to present a picture of the serial killer’s mentality.
The killer’s identity is revealed in the opening minutes itself. It follows the structure of a classic whydunit. In fact, before your mind registers the woman lying on the table with her hands and legs tied up in the first scene, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of the dungeon, where he beheads his victims. It’s definitely a dark, moody sort of movie that you won’t be able to enjoy if you’re not familiar with such setups. In a way, it’s also a slasher film. And even though it takes the emotional route in the third act, it’s a solid package that won’t let you mumble till the curtains have dropped.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to believe how far a person can go to save the love of his life. And when disability is involved, it becomes harder for us to take the hero’s strength into consideration. Here, Gautham (Udhayanidhi Stalin), a blind singer-cum-conductor, tries to solve a mystery, featuring Dagini (Aditi Rao Hydari) and the killer, with the help of his other sense organs – he knows what perfume she usually wears. And that’s how he starts putting the pieces together.
Mysskin’s films more often than not have blind characters in the background. They appear in some songs and scenes and are then pushed to the depths of emptiness. But Psycho is headlined by a blind man who lives in a mansion. And he’s always accompanied by a caretaker (played by Singampuli), who doubles up as his go-to annan (elder brother). The initial scenes that have Dagini yelling at – or ignoring – Gautham are less than ordinary since they are merely used as a stage to build up the tension. Ilaiyaraaja’s chilling score and the killer’s butcher knife are the only things reminding you of the danger around the corner.
In one scene, the camera slowly moves from a bunch of boys playing gully cricket to the faces of the cops that have arrived to talk to the parents of a victim. You may not understand the importance of the kids in that particular moment, but if you stick with the proceedings, you’ll learn that they give a clue to Gautham about the killer later. These are the basic qualities of a well-made thriller and they alone don’t make Psycho stand apart. However, when there’s a cop, who sings old songs (even when he’s about to die), and religious connections (the main reasons for the killer to take to the knife and the link between the names of the protagonist, Gautham, and the antagonist, Angulimala, etc.), you begin to make a lot of calculations in your head. And, perhaps, that’s why this isn’t a trip you’re going to forget anytime soon.
Mysskin-isms, the director’s signature tropes, are present throughout the movie and with the entry of Kamala (Nithya Menen), you realize that the writer in him hasn’t yet gotten tired of making at least one of his characters shout at the top of their voice. Again, this character is disabled, too – Kamala is a quadriplegic. Her inability to do things on her own makes her stop praying to God. And the lack of sunshine in her life makes her see everything around her through the lenses of bitterness. Another actor in Nithya’s shoes might have sounded annoying. But the Kamala you see on-screen is just helpless and not somebody you’d want to hate. These little touches to the characters are brilliant and despite not being apparent on the surface, they add wings to the screenplay.
Another important trope that the director plays with regularly is the one where a character goes down on all fours to ask for forgiveness. In Psycho, this is the scene where it gets weird and heavy. Maybe, Mysskin wanted to say that large acts of cruelty unleashed upon children might come back to haunt the perpetrators. Or, maybe, he wanted to highlight the foolishness of people who are religiously inclined. Only he can answer those questions! For now, though, all I’ll say is that I spent a good day at the theatre.