Sunday, April 15, 2018


Noisy Silence

Karthik Subbaraj’s Mercury claims to be the “first silent thriller in Indian cinema”, presumably disqualifying Pushpak because it was more comedy than thriller. However, it is not constructed as a film in which characters do not speak,  but one in which they are speech-impaired and use rather voluble sign language. The background is filled with the racket of Santosh Narayanan’s music score. The director whose Pizza and Jigarthanda were hits tries a horror experiment and does not quite succeed.
Five youngsters (Sananth, Indhuja, Deepak Paramesh, Shashank Purushottam, Anish Padmanbhan) gather at a remote forest bungalow for a birthday celebration. They are mute, because the town was poisoned by a mercury plant that looms ominously in the dark.
On a drive on the narrow roads they hit a man (Prabhdeva), and try to hide the body in the disused factory grounds. Somehow they get into the factory and have to save themselves from a malevolent spirit.
The plot is a slasher genre regular--  I Know What You Did Last Summer and Friday the 13th—that kind of revenge drama. The recent A Quiet Place used silence and sign language far more effectively.  In Mercury, if the characters’ impairment is a gimmick, the solemn environmental message hammered in is pure hokum. There is little connection between environmental disasters and this horror movie. 
A romance is halfheartedly included, but since the audience does not get to know the characters at all, their well being seems of little concern, or only to the extent that nobody wants teens to be slaughtered. Casting Prabhudeva, covering him in gore and not giving him a dance sequence would sink the film for the star’s fans.  In any case it is a dreadful bore…a noisy one at that!

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