The ApunKaChoice movie review of 1920 - Evil Returns. First things first. The Vikram Bhatt-written and produced 1920 - Evil Returns has nothing to do with the 2008 movie 1920 even though it’s being described as a quasi-sequel by the makers. The film does have a similar Victorian setting, but the story and plot is independent of the previous film.
Jaidev (Aftab Shivdasani) is a famous poet who’s turned into a loner when a brewing love story with a lady admirer ended abruptly. He lives in a mansion with his sister (Vidya Malvade). One day he finds a girl unconscious by the side of a lake. He brings her home. The girl Smruti (Tia Bajpai) has lost her memory, but strangely remembers a few poems penned by Jaidev.
Jaidev begins to like Smruti and decides to take her to a hospital in Shimla to help her regain lost memory, but his sister vehemently opposes as she senses something strange with Smruti. That something strange comes to the fore when on the way to Shimla, they rest in a guest house and Smruti is possessed by an evil spirit.
Director Bhushan Patel falls back on a lot of clichés of horror genre to scare the viewers. The change in Smriti’s voice after she’s taken over by the evil spirit (Sagar Saikia), her blood-shot eyes, her ghoulish appearance, her leaps through the air or crawls on the floor, and the evil writ large on her slit face -- all are achieved to a desired result, but clichés nonetheless. The real let-down is the writing by Vikram Bhatt and Amin Hajee. The film plods through the first half, thanks to a lackluster love story between Aftab Shivdasani and Tia Bajpai, and a couple of gratuitous songs that, if anything, slow down the pace of the narrative.
The scares do work at times, like the sequence in the guest house, or when Tia Bajpai ventures into a jungle chasing weird sounds, or the climax when the evil spirit goes full throttle. Though Bhushan rustles up a few genuine scares, he’s quite slipshod in using background music. The prosthetic make-up and VFX too are strictly average.
Aftab Shivdasani comes up with a restrained performance, but is never able to channel in the energy needed for the character in the second half. Tia Bajpai must have gone through a real grind playing the girl possessed by an evil spirit and for that she wins your admiration. Vidya Malvade and Sharad Kelkar, on the sidelines, chip in average performances.
On the whole, 1920 - Evil Returns is a fair to middling horror movie that, if not for shoddy writing, might have sent shivers down your spine.