Bhoot Part One The Haunted Ship movie review: Fear meets unintentional comedy in this Vicky Kaushal film
Bhoot Part One The Haunted Ship
Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Ashutosh Rana, Bhumi Pednekar
Director: Bhanu Pratap Singh
For Bollywood, the recipe to make a horror film is simple — horrifying make-up with blood streaks blended in, loud background score and a few well-timed jump scares. Debutant writer-director Bhanu Pratap Singh’s Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship, starring Vicky Kaushal, refuses to tinker with the formula. The best you can say about Bhoot is that it is not outrageously funny as some of Ram Gopal Varma’s big screen outings, but does unintentionally crack you up at many places.
As the name suggests, of course, there’s a ghost; a creepy raggedy doll – well, because Anabelle - with buttons in place of its eyes; and an old professor who does brave experiments to deal with supernatural powers and then chants mantras to shoo away the ghosts. And then there’s our hero, Vicky Kaushal, showing full-on josh while trying to solve the mystery of a haunted ship.
Inspired by a true story, the film starts with Sea Bird, a huge ship docking itself at Mumbai’s Juhu beach with no one on board. While the shipping officers joke, ‘yeh jarur padosi desh ki saajish hai’, things turn fishy when a couple who mindlessly tries to play hide and seek on the deserted ship disappears. Meanwhile, a grief-stricken officer, Prithvi (Vicky), who is dealing with a personal loss, finds a purpose in life in finding the truth of Sea Bird. Will he be able to uncover the mysteries? Will he come out alive? That’s the basic premise of the film.
I would say Bhoot is anything but scary. Apart from the scenes where a possessed young girl creepily crawls on the walls of the ship or the actual ghost screaming its lungs out, there’s barely anything to keep you on the edge. Even the jump scares of Bhoot are predictable!
Watch Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship’s trailer here:
It certainly can’t be called a wow experience for the bravehearts who’ve sat through some exceptionally effective horror films like The Conjuring or Lights Out. I even heard someone in the audience say that Bhoot is more like an episode from horror show Aahat.
Bhoot starts off intelligently, but soon loses its way and turns out to be predictable fare. For instance, the use of done-to-death horror tricks like cracking of mirror and, apparitions on mirrors don’t really bring much to the table. A slow-paced first half gets a bit tedious; the film reaches a crescendo only later in the second half and it feels like too little too late. Making it worse, even the big reveal is quite underwhelming, a bit rushed and fails to answer all questions.
Vicky delivers an earnest performance and balances his personal guilt and concern for the ship quite well. He doesn’t look fake scared in the ‘scary’ scenes. It won’t be wrong to say that it’s him who is carrying the entire film on his shoulders.
Bhumi Pednekar as Vicky’s wife has a short and simple cameo. Her character comes onscreen in a couple of flashbacks and there isn’t much happening with her.
Ashutosh Rana as Professor Joshi plays an exorcist, a role which he did to almost perfection in Raaz, but ends up looking merely a caricature in Bhoot. Given his acting prowess, he is highly under-utilised and given a half-baked character that’s too funny to be taken seriously.
Bhoot can be called a decent first attempt by the director but there is nothing in it that horror films have not shown in the past. The writer-director penned Vicky’s character as a man who is vulnerable owing to his troubled past and that instantly turns out to be the ploy we’ve seen in horror films, case in point being Aamir Khan’s nuanced performance in Talash.
What works in favour of Bhoot is its runtime. At 116 minutes, it clearly isn’t stretched needlessly but definitely feels so given the story’s glacial pace.
Background score and sound effects can make or break a horror film and both do their job effectively in Bhoot. Full marks to the makers for not adding any song-and-dance sequence beyond that one Channa Ve number to establish Vicky-Bhumi’s love story.
To sum it up, Bhoot has its high and low points, but doesn’t leave you craving for more. Watch it for a good performance from Vicky Kaushal but avid lovers of the genre will go back disappointed.
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