Film: "Phoonk 2"; Cast: Sudeep, Amruta Khanvilkar, Neeru, Amit Sadh, Ahasaas Channa; Director: Milind Gadagkar; Producer: Ram Gopal Varma; Rating: **
"Phoonk 2" is definitely not the scariest film we've seen. Ram Gopal Varma's terror theme has clearly run its course.
Perched somewhere between crowing (ahem ahem) about the supernatural and crying over the nerve-wracking disruption of domestic harmony by a ghost which just won't go away, "Phoonk 2" is like that promised roller-coaster ride which gets aborted in the first lap because of a short circuit.
It's not really Varma or his director Milind Gadagkar's fault. It's the nature of the material. Varma's love for horror has never extended beyond there's-something-under-the-bed kind of unwarranted foreboding that we all feel in a new environment. In a majority of his horror films, a family moves into a new haunted home and experiences the eerie.
Ironically, Varma's best effort in the horror genre was "Kaun" where the victim of terror (Urmila Matondkar) was stalked by unseen forces in her own home. The terror, it turned out was not under the bed, but in the mentally disturbed girl's head.
There wasn't much terror, let alone horror, in "Phoonk". Under the bed, or in the head. In "Phoonk 2" the characters' screeching plea to have us believe they are under immediate peril is sadly not communicated to the viewers. We remain tragically detached from the trauma of Kannada star Sudeep's family.
Haven't we seen it all? By now the trademark Varma camera movements, here manoeuvred with emphatic energy by cinematographer Charles Meher, and the intricate cluttered but effective sound design by Jayesh Dhakkan and Jayant Vajpayee do nothing to suck us into the plot.
The technique remains unfastened to the characters. Their desperate attempts to get away from the supernatural remain desperately detached from the audience.
At the end of the two hours into the zone of error-terror we are left wondering why Varma threw open a contest inviting any viewer to undergo an ECG to check his heart beats.
It is this film that needs a respiratory system. Varma's last horror outing "Agyaat" with its spooky ominous wide-open jungles was far more gripping. In "Phoonk 2", you wonder what the fuss is about. These people have nothing to fear except fear itself.
And yes, Varma was right. The crow does come up with the best performance. And that's nothing to crow about.