Wide World of Horror: ‘Yavarum Nalam’ – the oppression of television

Yavarum Nalam (13B: Fear Has a New Address)


Written by Vikram K. Kumar
Directed by Vikram K. Kumar
India, 2009

Even the slightest of Bollywood touches to a film out of India makes said film harder to swallow for most Western based cinephiles. Not in a negative way mind you, but it’s a safe bet that a musical number popping up in the middle of a horror movie is not something Western horror fans experience all that often. Especially not in a straight horror film, because that’s what Yavarum Nalam is, a straight horror movie. Sure, there are a few funny sequences, but at its heart this Indian film is a horror movie before all else. The inclusion of some minor Bollywood touches gives the film a unique flare amongst horror films, and that’s almost never a bad thing.

There’s a fair amount of oppression in Yavarum Nalam. The setting is almost claustrophobic; there are only a handful of scenes that take place in an open area. The family being as close as it is gives the impression that there’s nothing these characters can hide from one another. The camera work features a lot of close-up and zoom shots. This brings the viewer right up against the characters, leaving very little room for the character and the viewer to breathe. Most oppressive of all is the score by Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani, and Loy Mendonsa. The score continually presses down on the film, almost squeezing any and all air out of every scene.

The oppression in Yavarum Nalam is well done and creates a splendid horror atmosphere. That’s important because when it comes to the story this film comes up a tad short. The story in Yavarum Nalam isn’t lacking on the surface or in terms of premise. Where the story comes off the rails is in the way it is told and how Vikram K. Kumar treats his audience as lacking the ability to figure out his story. By not trusting the audience Yavarum Nalam over-explains on numerous occasions. There wasn’t any need for this as the base story was easy enough to follow along with. However, the more explanation that is given the more convoluted the story becomes and that only leads to more scenes explaining what is going on.

There isn’t much new to the horror found in Yavarum Nalam. What is present is a decent horror tome that gets by more on atmosphere than anything else. There’s nothing wrong with a horror movie that relies on atmosphere. This is especially true when the atmosphere is implemented as well as in Yavarum Nalam. Tiru Kumar builds his film around atmosphere and luckily the film delivers when it comes to said atmosphere. The rest of the film varies from professionally competent to overbearing in a clunky manner. That atmosphere sure is great though, when it comes to presenting oppression Yavarum Talam manages to be a cut above the average horror film.

-Bill Thompson

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