Perhaps the best thing about Annabelle Sethupathi is that it tries to be funny. The genre – horror – is a complete misnomer, but we’ll get to that later. The landscape is populated with actors of certain comic heft, who are known for their ability to elicit a laugh or two even without being actively humorous. There’s Vijay Sethupathi. Devadarshini. Yogi Babu – the propellant, quite overused. Radikaa Sarathkumar, whose antics are vaguely reminiscent of every 90s film made for “viewing with family” – reliant on everything loud and slapstick. It’s possible that Annabelle Sethupathi was conceived on these values that sold a few decades back. Scenes and dialogue exaggerated for comic effect, setting and characters larger than life. A semblance of a story – which exists as a mere prop to drive forward the various acts. Annabelle Sethupathi checks all the boxes.
Somehow, Yogi Babu and Vijay Sethupathi, despite being actors in the new age, fit in with the scheme of things – they seem to intuitively know their limitations in the film. The misfit here is Taapsee Pannu – the eponymous Annabelle – who braves the lines she’s given, but after an hour, her act turns excruciating to behold.
But this isn’t an isolated instance in Annabelle. Every actor, by design or will, performs their piece with overstated drama. Except perhaps for Vijay Sethupathi, who plays an aristocrat-slash-ruler in pre-independent India. He buys a plot of land amidst the hills for more than what it is worth. His aide wants to know why. Sethupathi – as king Veera Sethupathi – says it’s because the mountains seemed sad. It’s a classic Vijay Sethupathi delivery – totally deadpan.
To understand why Annabelle Sethupathi was made at all – especially two decades after the new millennium, it’s pertinent to understand the director’s roots. Deepak Sundarrajan, who ventures into filmmaking with Annabelle Sethupathi, is the son of director Sundarrajan, a prominent 90s actor and director. Suffice to say that the director has been and is still influenced largely by the age in which his father was active. Which perhaps also explains the star cast.
But how does one explain the complete lack of cinematic sensibilities? The director has everything in place – a history with the industry, good cast and crew, and the capability to lavish on vast sets and locales. He has everything but convincing writing. Consider this: An aristocrat builds a mansion for his wife. She’s murdered by his rival, who desires the mansion. The rival and his family are poisoned by the resident cook. The cook is reverse-poisoned by his own food. And they all return to haunt the castle, as paranormal as the next person you meet down the street – very human in spirit. What do they do when they encounter the now-reincarnated owners of the mansion?
At best, Annabelle Sethupathi can be excused as a debutant filmmaker’s nostalgic recreations, but even then, it is an extremely sloppy attempt that devalues the collective intellect of the audience.
This Annabelle Sethupathi review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.