THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR
Starring Siddharth, Andrea Jeremiah and Atul Kulkarni
Directed by Milind Rau
Written by Chandan Arora, Rahul Ramchandani, Milind Rau, and Siddharth
THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR is not your average horror film from India. Unlike others which might put scares in between song and dance numbers, it offers a quickly paced fright fest in which the solar eclipse, pregnancy, spirits and spirit possession all feature prominently. Well acted, written and shot, THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR nevertheless falters at around the one hour and twenty-one minute mark, but it’s only a momentary lapse in a film which manages to hold the viewer’s attention despite a hefty running time and CGI scares.
There are certain tactile sensations to watching any film, and it’s those sensations that can have the most lasting effect. This is especially true for horror films, and for THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR, which has a sensation comparable to thinly worn sandpaper: it’s still rough and leaves a mark, but it’s shallow and far from novel. We’ve all seen spirit possession films before, and we’ve all seen horror films that prominently feature pregnancy; what THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR has is not exactly original, but is original in its delivery.
Directed by co-writer Milind Rau and starring Siddharth, who also co-wrote and produced, THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR follows a young couple and the family who moves in across the street as their lives become entangled in the web of a long sleeping evil. Things get off to a fairly good start as the two families instantly form a bond, but with each twist and turn the bond is strained, leaving the viewer holding their breath in anticipation for it to snap. That said, a good chunk of time is spent right off getting to know the characters before the first of the ghostly manifestations occur. It’s also in this early portion of the movie when we get most of the film’s humour, but after the first ghostly manifestation begins wreaking havoc, humour is traded for urgency, tragedy and disorder. It was a promising and effective start that came full circle.
Soon the eldest daughter of the new family begins acting strangely and that’s when things really start moving, taking mostly expected, and a very small handful of unexpected, shortcuts that culminate in a very satisfying face off that left me cheering. (I won’t tell you why, you’ll have to watch the film to find out.)
Ultimately, THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR is a triumphant new entry in the Hindi horror canon. It signals the possible start of a whole new monster in Indian cinema that, if nurtured, could make horror films from the region receive the international recognition they deserve.