Cast: Prabhu Dheva, Sannath Reddy, Indhuja, Deepak Paramesh, Shashank Purushotham, Anish Padmanabhan and Gajaraj
Director: Karthik Subbaraj
Rating: * *
A half-baked attempt at silent-horror-thriller, ‘Mercury,’ written and directed by Karthik Subbaraj fails to find it’s meter despite an ingenious attempt at story-telling craft. Five Second generation victims (Sannath Reddy, Indhuja, Deepak Paramesh, Shashank Purushotham, Anish Padmanabhan and Gajaraj) of Mercury poisoning, somewhere in the southern hills, are celebrating the shut-down anniversary of the Company/Factory ‘Corporate Earth’ that was responsible for the death of their parents and their own speech impediments. After paying tribute to their dead families at the memorial constructed in their honour, the five are travelling to the site where the devastating incident took place… when they accidentally hit a blind man walking his dog. It’s foggy in the hills and the mist is so thick that they don’t see him coming. Thinking he is dead, the five engineer to throw him in a ditch but their relief is short-lived.
Thereafter they come face-to-face with the consequences of their actions and it all happens in a weirdly unpalatable fashion.
Is the man seeking revenge, a ghost or human? If he is a ghost why is he still blind? And if he is human, how come he survived the accident and regained enough strength to eke out his vengeance? Some of the numerous questions that arise out of a scrappily thought out screenplay, get answered, but the rest is left up in the air. The Mercury poisoning aspect appears to be merely a gimmicky instrument being used to garner fake sympathy. Director Karthik Subbaraj(of ‘Pizza’ fame) appears to be more intent on showcasing his technical smarts than telling a lucid believable story. While the non-linear narrative does well to keep the final ‘reveal’ a suspense, it doesn’t quite get us rooting for any of the characters within. We never empathise with their fears or their consequent actions. That’s also because the actors literally get into hyper mode trying to express themselves through sign language and mime.
The performances are overdone and leave no room for a tempered understanding. Since all the characters in this film are either dumb and/or sightless we don’t have to deal with any dialogues. The narrative which begins its foray into the paranormal from the point-of-view of the five friends suddenly loses grip and shifts focus erratically between the individual victims and their nemesis.
The background music score by Santosh Narayanan goes overboard trying to create eeriness even in situations which don’t quite match that intent. The sound design is not exactly consistent either. Cinematographer S Tirru does well to use the appropriate filters for the various changes of moods and moments that Subbaraj constructs within the narrative. But the subsequent effect doesn’t build up to a crescendo of tension or terror. There’s little dread in the experience of it. Instead, we are left lamenting about a solid idea going down the drain.
The climax and epilogue are also too out-of-the-box to warrant plausibility. The editing by Vivek Harshan doesn’t aid lucidity either. Like in ‘Pizza,’ Subbaraj’s attempts to be way-too-clever while framing his narrative doesn’t allow for much attachment. You might admire his technique but getting immersed in his artificially enhanced narrative spiel is totally out of question!