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Connect - Mixed reception

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Ashwin Saravanan’s 2015 debut, another Nayanthara starrer ‘Maya’, was a confident and unique film, marking the start of a potentially promising career. The nauseating soundtrack (in a good way!) and focus on sound design is a facet missing in most Tamil horror films. This was followed up with 2019’s ‘Game Over’, with Taapsee Pannu in the lead. Although technically it is not as carefully crafted as his first, the concept for the film was startlingly fresh and is certainly a more impressive feature. Three years on, Ashwin’s latest film ‘Connect’ is his most polished venture yet.

The plot follows Susan - portrayed by Nayanthara - and her family, consisting of her father, husband and daughter. The family struggle to cope with a tragedy in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, when netherworldly intervention causes them more distress. The plot line is lean, rarely deviating from the ‘possession’ genre formula, which is one of its biggest drawbacks. Running at just under 100 minutes, the film does away with the intermission, which is a wise move for this genre - how else can one effectively build tension and suspense? The actors performed their parts well, especially Haniya Nafis, who plays Susan’s daughter Anna.

Visually, the film is a pastiche of the films released under the A24 production company: the cinematography is clean, well-framed and uses mostly muted colours. A scene early on in the film featured a black screen, a candle gradually lighting up different sections of it, which was executed immaculately and rivalled Western horror output. Looking past the obvious issue of the laptop/phone cameras having state-of-the-art camera capabilities, the cinematography is quite exceptional, especially due to the to-the-camera performances. This gives the film a very unique aesthetic, unlike any other Tamil film. The tension-building is brilliant throughout the film; the sound design is certainly commendable. However, the jumpscares/climactic moments are evenly hit and miss. At times, the film slips into Blumhouse Productions territory (ie Unfriended) where the events onscreen are ridiculous due to the unconvincing acting performances or sudden supernatural actions.

There are several instances of diegetic music from the music student Anna, provided by Prithvi Chandrasekar. The film plays with the idea of connection on a few levels, whether that is the connection between people and family which was restricted during COVID, or the connection between the living and the dead.

Overall, ‘Connect’ is a mixed bag. Vignesh Shivan’s production company ‘Rowdy Pictures’ should be commended for financing more artistically experimental films, such as 2021’s ‘Koozhangal.’ Despite its lack of technical prowess (in comparison to the two other films in Saravanan’s filmography), ‘Game Over’ remains his strongest film due to its original concept. Although, conventionally speaking, ‘Connect’ may be one of the most successful horror films in the Tamil film industry - which is a very low bar to step over.

Krishna's rating: 3 stars


Official trailer for the film below:

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