The ApunKaChoice movie review of Bhoot Returns.Bhoot Returns to a haunted house again. Instead of the multi-storey apartment of Bhoot, Ram Gopal Varma takes the fiend to a bungalow with a garden (and a swing), dark stairways, musty interiors with a lot of soft toys, and things that go bump in the night. A family of four moves in lured by the throwaway rent, unsuspecting of the mysterious situation in which the previous tenants disappeared. Even as the family makes itself at home, the 8-year-old girl Nimmi (Alayana Sharma) chances upon a doll through which she befriends Shabbo, an invisible spirit whom only she can see.
Soon eerie things begin to happen. Unexplained knocks on the door, creepy movement of furniture, weird sounds that leave the parents (Manisha Koirala and Charkravarthi) and the kids’ visiting aunt (Madhu Shalini) perplexed. Manisha, perhaps having watched Paranormal Activity, decides to install CCTV cameras inside the house and what the footage reveals spooks the living daylights out of everyone’s mind. By the time they decide to vacate the house, it’s too late.
Obvious question: is it scary? A bit, but the scares are rather scarcer than they were in Bhoot, but when they do pop out unexpectedly, that’s when they hit a viewer like a lightning bolt. And the lightning strikes once or twice in the first half, and no more than that in the second. Must say Ramu is good in building up the anticipation, sometimes lingering and lingering before unleashing the scare with a loud sound effect to boot, sometimes just blasting it in your face Ramsey style, without all the gore albeit.
The 3D effects aren’t used to the optimal in giving you the heebie-jeebies, but Ramu’s weird camera angles do make for an interesting watch. The real culprit is Ramu’s direction. Many a time, he makes the character of Manisha Koirala over-react (therefore overact) and that of Chakravarthi either too blasé or too rattled (therefore overact, again!). It’s the little girl Alayana who with her naturally innocent disposition towards everything scare-worts consider spooky wins a viewer over.
Never wary of experimenting, Ramu shockingly cranks out a few clichéd horror genre tropes that have long given up the ghost for any avid viewer. The mirror scare (with the reflection staying on even as the subject has moved on), the crawl scare (the ten-year-old son pulled along the floor by an invisible force), and the swing scare (swing moving on its own) no longer give the viewer a start. It’s in between these clichés that Ramu packs in a moment or two of genuine scare. But a moment or two is a poor bargain for the hefty ticket price you pay hoping for a nerve jangler.