Released as Aval in Tamil Nadu, the film starring Siddharth, Andrea Jeremiah, Anisha Victor in main leads won the critics hearts to large extent and is a commercial success too. Released as Gruham in Telugu today, let us see how scary is this Gruham directed by Milind Rau?
Following a regular template before titles, a Chinese pregnant mother and daughter living in a swanky house on the foothills of Himalayas face a tragedy. Cut into present, a dynamic Neuro Surgeon Krish (Siddharth) and his wife Lakshmi (Andrea Jeremiah) spend more time in bedroom than any other portion in house. Life goes smooth for them until a new neighbor Paul (Atul Kulkarni), his wife, elder daughter Jenny (Anisha Victor) and one cute little daughter join. As both families get along very well, Jenny begins to experience strange happenings in the house and clearly seems possessed. With the help of Psychiatrist Prasad (Suresh), both Paul and Krish try to get things at normal. Considering Jenny’s case as special, they also rope in local priest (Prakash) for exorcism which misfires and the possessed soul sounds… ‘The Girl is Going To Die.’ It’s time for Prasad, Krish to trace more details about this haunted house and meanwhile Lakshmi is also pregnant. What’s the connection between Lakshmi’s pregnancy and the Chinese pregnant mother and daughter’s flashback? Is Krish alright or he too is possessed? To know more, you need to watch Gruham.
Telugu and Tamil film industries have churned the last drop of juice out of horror and horror comedy genres. Unlike regular horror flicks we come across in Tollywood or Kollywood, Gruham is more inspired by Korean and Hollywood horror template from popular ones including Conjuring. Yet, Grusham stands out for its visual effects and the world class sound design used in slick presentation by director Milind Rau. Co-written by Siddharth, the film had its share of terrifying twists and turns that uncover at very leisure pace. Gruham also walked on a tight rope for super strong technicalities and top notch performances extracted by Milind.
Shreyaas Krishna’s camera work is nothing short of world class standards and the film scored high in this aspect. Lawrence Kishore editing is one of the big plus as his sharp cuts when mixed with right sounds generated instant chills. Thanks to Girishh’s top notch RR and sound design which made the film stand top on altogether a different footing. Production standards from Viacom 18 and Etaki are good enough.
Onto performances, Siddharth is though the central leading hero but its Anisha Victor’s dreary acts chase our thoughts for long. Siddharth in last 10 minutes had a killer show. He is altogether in a different character untried before. His romantic chemistry with Andrea is red hot. Their intimate scenes are a treat for targeted audience. Andrea gave away everything for character and no-way you can pull off the eyes. Suresh, Prakash and Atu Kulkarni played their parts very well. Rest including the Chinese father, mother and daughter were apt.
Interval Exorcism Scene
Dragged Second Half
Pre Climax, Climax
Areas where South Indian horror films are continuously tanking are lack of real spooky episodes and meager technical standards. Siddharth and Milind Rau though haven’t thought any out of the box plot but they picked the best of material from hit Hollywood horror movies. So, we find lot many inspirations in Gruham making it a cliché on storyline. Yet, hanging on audience interest throughout using nearly or all the six central characters in a finite backdrop is challenging that makes Gruham definitely different from rest.
Introducing Chinese family in black and white visuals at Himalayas took some time to begin the first half. Then to present, story shifts to Siddharth, Andrea Jeremiah’s youthful love story, marriage and family setup. Among the new neighbors Anisha Victor absorbs our attention instantly as she jumps into the well to get saved by Siddharth. Real horror kick starts as there’s couple of terrific edits with a perfect sound mix. As Anisha continues to behave bizarre, Psychiatrist Suresh’s entry shows off other side of medicine. Fake exorcism episode lasting for almost 15 minutes take breathes away with reverberating background, spine chilling visuals and startling performance from Anisha.
Into second half, pace of film drops significantly. While we expect something formidable to happen, narrative goes on and on. A scary dream for Siddharth and one episode on Andrea, definitely Milind should have tightened the script in these portions. The twisted main hall which Siddhath walks around in mid night is a direct rip off from Hollywood yet acceptable. Then it’s Siddharth and Andrea hospital horror episode, one on each. As Milind cannot stop further from revealing the flashback, there’s really nothing great here as he touched a social issue. Back to present, a small twist in writing brings Siddharth back on main sketch moving to a regular pre climax and climax.
All in all, Gruham oozed in some freshness for horror movie lovers. For followers of International cinema, this might be a routine fare but for others, this is Southernized version of Conjuring. Commercial success aside, Gruham is sure to win the applause from critics. CJ goes for 2.75 stars and recommends for a safe one time watch in this weekend.