I am not the biggest advocate of watching horror films over OTT. I love the atmosphere of the cinema hall as the darkness sets in with just the dim red exit light showing you the way out in case the film gets too overwhelming. I love the big screen experience with a rambunctious crowd making jokes at the worst possible times to ease the tension. And then there is the sound mixing that envelops you in truly remarkable horror films like Krasinksi’s A Quiet Place or Jordan Peele’s Us. So when I started to watch Vineeth Varaprasad’s Lift – fully prepared with noise cancelling headphones – I was pleasantly surprised to find I did not miss the big screen experience for most of the film’s two-hour runtime.
Lift starts off with Kavin‘s Guru joining an IT company as a team lead. There, he meets Amritha‘s Harini, an HR person in the company, with whom Guru has a not-so-cute history. This lightness at the start with these two is not so over the top that it takes away from the horror portion that the film slowly, but neatly segues into after the first 20 minutes.
Writer-director Vineeth Varaprasad‘s ability to hold our attention from the first time Guru recognises there is a supernatural presence in the mix, through his attempts to escape that presence over the next 60 minutes, is extremely commendable. The first hour of Lift is hands down one of the best horror experiences in Tamil cinema. In this stretch, the cinematography, sound mixing, editing, and just the sheer ability to keep different horror tropes running extremely seamlessly, are all on point. The director’s ability to keep us engaged with different storytelling mechanisms is something that I have not seen since Ashwin Saravanan’s fantastic debut, the horror film Maya.
That said, Lift comes undone in the last 20 minutes, when the director decides to use the flashback to shoehorn in an explanation for the supernatural presence. But, even in this massive misstep, the way he narrates the flashback, using a certain character at death’s door, is impressive.
Lift is one of those rare films that respects the boundaries of its genre. It uses more psychological means to induce horror than your regular jump scares. And it uses the motif of the lift inside a corporate building to signify the trappings of everyday human life – one of the existential themes that the film boldly tackles. That it does all this while providing ample acting opportunities to Kavin and Amritha, reminds me of a certain other young debutant in 2012 – Karthik Subbaraj with Pizza. It is not a direct comparison, but if history is anything to show, Vineeth Varaprasad and Kavin should be able to lift themselves up with subsequent films.
The Lift 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.